By Abac Cordero
RANGOON – Coach Michael Weiss is putting the leash on the Azkals.
“He wants us to focus more,” said Filipino striker Chieffy Caligdong yesterday at the dining area of Hotel Yangon where the Azkals and the other visiting teams, Bangladesh and Palestine, are billeted.
Weiss, who came in last February, taking over the chores from Simon McMenemy, has instituted positive changes on certain policies pertaining to the Azkals movements.
They can’t move around as freely as they used to be, and now there’s a thin red line between them and mediamen who used to enjoy greater access.
“I’m asking for some separation for the players. I hope you understand,” the German coach said yesterday.
In the dining area, the Azkals moved like a team, in their all-red Mizuno outfit. The coaches, including team manager Dan Palami, occupied a table, and the players were on three others.
The Fil-foreign players were together, including new Spanish recruit Angel Guirado, Neil Etheridge, Simon Greatwich, Rob Gier, James Younghusband, Anton del Rosario and Patrick Hinrichsen.
Guirado, still browsing up on his English, always has Rafa Garcia, his Filipino cousin and older brother of basketball coach Caloy Garcia, by his side, acting as interpreter.
Etheridge flew in just the other day, after a tiring journey from the United Kingdom. He flew seven hours to Dubai, another seven hours to Bangkok and a couple more to here.
“I’m used to it,” said the 6-foot-3 goalkeeper.
“That’s how it is when you play for the national team. You always come in late, but always ready to play,” he told The STAR at the airport.
In Rangoon, where there are so many restrictions as well, the Azkals are almost isolated. No cell phones, no laptops and very limited Internet access.
But it may all turn out to be a blessing in disguise, because they can perhaps focus more on the match, rather than spend time tweeting, chatting or skyping on the Internet.