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PFF makes Weiss move

Returning Philippine Azkals head coach Hans Michael Weiss feels that playing regular matches with foreign squads is key to earning a 2026 World Cup berth. (AFP)

Competing with foreign opposition will play a pivotal role in uplifting the level of play of the Philippine Azkals, returning head coach Hans Michael Weiss said yesterday.

After an absence of nine years, Weiss said during a press conference that it is the only way for the Azkals to make it to the biggest football spectacle in the world.

“We have quality and we have to show it. We have to play games and I talked with the president that we have to play in the Middle East so we can get experience and bring in players from Europe here,” said Weiss, who called the shots for the Azkals from 2011 to 2014.

The formal welcome for Weiss took place at the PFF House of Football in Pasig City with PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta and team manager Dan Palami in attendance.

“When the federation calls you back the second time, it can be seen as a good thing because you must have done something good in the past. We had our ups and downs in my first stint but looking back, with the support of Dan, it was fantastic,” Weiss added.

To pull it off, Weiss said the Philippines has to figure prominently in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers so it could join the world’s finest when the United States, Mexico and Canada co-host the 2026 World Cup.


‘We have quality and we have to show it.’


The cast has been expanded to 48 teams, including eight for Asia alone, effectively doubling the participation of the countries from previous World Cups.

The first round of the World Cup qualifiers will take place from 12 to 17 October and the second round will be from 16 November to 11 June 2024 with the venues yet to be announced.

The first two rounds will also be the qualifiers for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup which will be held in Saudi Arabia.

The Azkals will have a lot of work to do with Weiss, starting with the two friendly matches this month.

The men’s national team will face Nepal on 15 June before taking on Chinese Taipei on 19 June with both matches taking place at the Rizal Memorial Football Field.

Bannering the 26-man pool is Birmingham FC goalkeeper Neil Ethridge, SpVgg Greuther Fürth II midfielder Sandro Reyes and Bienvenido Marañón, who is currently playing in Spain’s Segunda Division B club Villarrubia CF.

Weiss doesn’t mind having only a one-year contract as he himself wants to see how far the team can go under his leadership.

He is also aiming to have games by September to keep the Azkals sharp for the first window.

“I have a one-year contract and I think that’s reasonable. We have to see where we go,” Weiss said.

“If we can make it to the World Cup, it will be a dream. Whether it is realistic or not, the next months will show it. For sure, the Azkials must play in every Asian Cup.”

“What is important now is this year.”

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