Azkals not taking Sri Lanka for granted

By Francis Santiago

Overconfidence has no place in the national football team.

With a little over two months to go before an important match, coach Hans Michael Weiss is leaving no stone unturned to prepare the Philippine Azkals.

The German mentor said he will start watching the tapes of the Sri Lanka football team so that he can map out his strategy for the Azkals who are set to meet the Sri Lankans on June 29 in the first-round World Cup qualifying match.

Sri Lanka has announced that the first leg of the home-and-away series will be held at the 25,000-seater Sugatahdasa Stadium in Colombo with the return leg set five days later in Manila at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium which will undergo a facelift.

“We will get the tapes from recent AFC Challenge Cup group qualifier in Nepal,” Weiss told the Bulletin.

Two weeks ago, Sri Lanka saw action in the Challenge Cup Group D qualifier, where it failed to win a single match, bowing to 2010 World Cup qualifier North Korea (0-4) and Afghanistan (0-1) while forcing a scoreless draw opposite Nepal.

The Azkals joined a similar qualifying tournament in Myanmar last month, and managed to advance to the finals next year after finishing second in Group A with one win and two draws.

Sri Lanka is 18 spots lower than the Philippines at 173 in the latest FIFA rankings, but Weiss has no plans of taking the South Asian team for granted.

In fact, the 46-year-old Weiss is in Germany scouting for promising players who could strengthen the Azkals. He will hold a two-day camp starting today before conducting a tryout on Monday at Nagold, a town in southwestern Germany.

Weiss said “two interesting players are now trying to present themselves.”

They are 18-year-old Kevin Ingreso and 19-year-old Brian Hoffman whose mothers are Filipinas.

Ingreso plays as an attacking midfielder for Hamburger SV (Sport-Verein) Under-19 squad while Hoffman comes from the youth academy in VFB (Verein für Bewegungsspiele) Stuttgart, which plays in Bundesliga.

The 5-foot-10 Ingreso has scored four goals in 21 games he played in North Regionaliga under Hamburger SV second team and U-19 Bundesliga North/Northeast.

The Azkals will be reinforced by a Fil-German in Markus Stephan Schrock, who has already secured a Philippine passport. Source