Philippine national men’s football team head coach Hans Michael Weiss defended the inclusion of midfielder Stephan Schrock in the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification amid public backlash.
Speaking after the Azkals’ 0-2 loss to Vietnam at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium last Thursday, Weiss, who is in his second stint with the Philippines, said the squad agreed on having the 37-year-old Filipino-German.
Schrock initially retired in January this year in the ASEAN Football Federation Mitsubishi Cup before suiting up once more for the Philippines last 15 June in a friendly match against Nepal.
“I was the one who asked him back and he didn’t want it but I said I think you can do something and everybody agreed. His dribbles might be a bit exaggerated but that’s his style ever since and he put in a lot of effort to be here,” Weiss said.
“The age is a number but a fit player with a lot of experience can still play at a high level for a certain period. We don’t have a deep bench so we need players who can make a difference. We need to introduce new players but we have to back them up with old players with experience.”
As of now, the Philippines is in third place in Group F with a 0-0-1 win-draw-loss record with a -2 goal difference.
With Indonesia coming off a 0-4 loss to Iraq last Wednesday and playing in the Philippines on Tuesday, 21 November, Weiss said they will need all the advantage they can get to earn their first win in the second round.
He is also optimistic they will carry over the lessons they learned in their loss against the Vietnamese will be applied when the Azkals face the Indonesians on home soil.
“We shouldn’t be too safe about it. I have to see our physical condition,” Weiss said.
“We have to lick our wounds and see. I expect more in the second game and dominate with more power and with the willpower that we have, I think we can do better than we did today.”