By Olmin Leyba
Coach Michael Weiss longs for the day when he can put the Azkals on a tighter leash and make them 100 percent focused on training for their Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifier match with Sri Lanka in June and July.
Weiss, who supervised the Azkals’ first day of training at the Rizal Memorial pitch, lamented how tired most of the players are due to a number of things, from commitments to clubs and other ongoing competitions, to other non-football stuff.
“We need to get the players in, we need to get better organized. We need especially the help of the clubs because there are too many matches now, so the players are distracted and exhausted because there’s no time for relaxment (relaxation),” Weiss said.
As the team goes on its second week of training, some of the Azkals regulars and Azkals aspirants are playing in tournaments like the Club Championships, Under-23 and Under 19 tournaments. Some of the popular ones are moonlighting in product endorsements and modelling. Co-skipper Chieffy Caligdong, an Air Force man was summoned to headquarters in Cebu, while some are still hurting like Ian Araneta (hips), goalies Paolo Pascual (hamstring) and Edward Sacapano (MCL), and Phil Younghusband (cramps).
“(Too many) matches, one player is called today by a general, other players have commercials whatever, (team is) not 100 percent professional so far,” Weiss noted.
“We have to think camps in the future and stay off too much distraction,” he added.
The team will not be in training camp stage until next week when they hold team-building sessions in Cebu and Iloilo and by June 12 when they encamp in Duren, Germany for what Weiss called “ a real camp with matches.”
For now, though, the German mentor requests self-discipline from his players.
“We are not in camp yet. Everybody goes home to his place so he needs to discipline himself. Most of the players are disciplined but there’s a lot of temptation in a big city like Manila. I cannot be behind every player, that would be difficult,” he said.
Joining Day 1 regulars Aly Borromeo, Anton del Rosario, James Younghusband and Roel Gener at the Rizal pitch were returning Fil-foreigners Chad Gould and Leigh Gunn and new recruits Nathan Burkey, James Rochlitz, Neil Ignacio and Alvin Sarmiento. Source