Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fair Play: Coach Michael Weiss beyond 2012

GERMAN coach Hans Michael Weiss's coaching contract with the Philippines will end in January, 2013, but that doesn't mean his program and vision for Philippine football will end on that month, too.

In fact, he's looking way beyond 2013—the Asian Cup, 2015.

Whether he gets a contract extension or not, he's working on the assumption that he will still be the coach in the next two years because even if the PFF decides to get a new coach, the preparation will be there.

"The PFF will be in very good hands," he said, saying the preparation for the Asian Cup 2015 should start right after the Suzuki Cup.

The Philippines is now third in Southeast Asia, 22nd in Asia and No. 147 in the world, thanks to a frenetic pace the past two years courtesy of coach Weiss, Dan Palami and PFF president Mariano Araneta.

"The other teams are not sleeping, if we don't continue, we will drop and they will catch up," said Weiss, and he was definitely not talking about the rankings.

For 2015, Weiss expects the youngsters in the senior team, and even those who aren't there now, to figure prominently--citing OJ Porteria, Jeffrey Christiaens, Demetrius Omphroy, Matt Uy, Marwin Angeles and Jason de Jong and former members like Mark Hartmann and Joshua Beloya.  Hartmann, he said, just needs to get his fitness back to international level.  Most of these players could form the core for the SEA games next year.

Coach Weiss is particularly fond of Christiaens and Porteria, youngsters who he said are still "trainable" and are willing to learn.  As for de Jong, he pointed out the change of attitude of the Stallions player who was once left off the team. 

Christiaens a midfielder turned defender has the speed that even if he gets out of position, he can recover well.

"I knew he can play defender, it was something he was trying to hide," said Weiss.

Aside from the players he mentioned, coach Weiss also said he's trying to recruit one from Japan's U19 team, and another player from Australia, an aspect of his job that's rarely mentioned.

Weiss, the sixth man to handle the men's national team in six years, said the past two years has been one crazy phase.

"It's a five to 10-year progress crammed into two years," he said, "That's why everything had to be rushed."

Weiss wasn't only talking about the men's team, but everything about Philippine football and credited the stakeholders for the exponential rise of the sport.

"It was due to the contributions of people like Dan Palami, (Mariano) Araneta, the coaching staff, the PFF, the UFL. All people made tremendous progress," he said.

It's progress yes, but one that can be sustained if--in his own words--"we get our asses together."

Weiss says he sees the next two years as more of a stabilization phase for Philippine football, after the catching up phase of the past two years.

In terms of matches, that phase would mean—if we play a foe like Kuwait again six times—we lose three matches, draw two and maybe win one.

“We now know overall where we are,” he said. “We now play a more tactical game, more possession football to create more goal opportunities.”  

It’s in converting the goal opportunities that more work is needed, that’s why there’s another striker waiting in the wing, Javier Patino, someone who traces his lineage to Surigao and is playing in the second division in Spain.

Of course, whether coach Weiss will still be the head coach will probably be determined after the Suzuki Cup but Dan confirmed that they’ve had initial discussions on an extension.

“The past two years has been very fast, and we must continue to work,” he said.

Indeed, it’s been a crazy two years, and I know my vote doesn’t count, but based on what coach Weiss has done the past two years and what I think he can still do, I hope he does get that extension.

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