Philippine national men’s football team head coach Hans Michael Weiss believes the squad has to do more than recruit overseas players to remain competitive in international tournaments.
Weiss, who is on his second tour of duty as the tactician for the Azkals, said it’s not just enough to get Filipino-foreign players, particularly from European nations, as other countries in Southeast Asia have been naturalizing players to jack up their respective squads.
The German mentor, who handled Filipino-foreign stars such as Phil and James Younghusband, Stephan Schrock and Angel and Juani Guirado in the early part of the 2010s, said if possible, the recruits, along with the homegrown talent, have to play in Southeast Asian leagues to get a better feel of the competition and to get easily called up for the Azkals for national team duties.
Save for goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and right-back Santiago Rublico, who play for Birmingham City FC and Atletico Madrid’s under-19 team respectively, most of the players for the second round of the qualifiers are currently playing in Southeast Asia with five players coming from Kaya FC-Iloilo in the Philippines Football League.
“Having naturalized players or half-blooded players is a legitimate thing. We did it years ago and we were pioneers. Now, the small advantage that we have has diminished because the others are doing the same thing,” Weiss said.