Azkals need more topnotch international play

By Jeric Lopez

In order for the Philippine Azkals to climb the rankings in the international scene, they certainly need to play more topnotch competition.

Both Philippine Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss and Nepal coach Graham Roberts agreed that it takes a lot of work and international playing experience for their respective squads to slowly climb the ladder in the world ranks.

Not only do these friendly games toughen national teams, they also gauge the strength of a certain squad in international play.

‘’We get challenged whenever we face tough countries. It really helps every time we play other countries because we get to see where we really are and how far we’ve come as a team,’’ said Weiss. ‘’Friendly games are a huge part of our preparations for various tournaments.’’

Roberts, who also has a nice football pedigree under his belt, also shared the same outlook when it comes to playing against other nations.

“I think we need exposure against stronger nations. This is an important thing for us. This is what we all need and I’m sure the Philippine coach agrees. I hope that we can both have more games like this in the future,’’ said Roberts.

‘”We need to play more international games because the more you play topnotch competition, the more you get better as a team. The players will absolutely improve individually as well,’’ he added.

The outspoken Nepal tactician went further by explaining how to build a strong foundation for a national team.

“My players do not train with their respective clubs in Nepal , they just train when it comes to the national team. I need to teach these players to practice a lot because great training is the key, period. I believe we’ve progressed a lot,’’ Roberst said.

As of this writing, the Philippine Azkals and Nepal are locking horns in their friendly match in the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

This exhibition game is one of the final preparations of the Azkals, whose under-23 players are headed to the South East Asian Games in Indonesia next month.

But Weiss, prior to the match, already affirmed that he will not take chances and will still use his senior players more.

“Basically, I’ll rely on the seniors more.’’

This was just the second meeting of the Philippines and Nepal in football history. They once met in 1982 with Nepal winning 1-0. Published in Manila Standard