Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Suzuki Cup Azkals vs War Elephants: it's all about efficiency & national pride

With Thailand head coach Winfried Schafer. We had a long talk about tactics and German football.

Philippines vs. Thailand: Efficiency and national pride
by rick olivares

When the Philippines and Thailand collide in the main match of Group B play in the 2012 Suzuki Cup at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, it will be all about efficiency on the pitch. Philippine and Thai talent engineered by German efficiency.

Winfried Schafer, who succeeded Englishman Bryan Robson as head coach of the War Elephants, he decried the country’s predilection for playing long ball football. “It is a mad rush for the ball, knock down a few people, and try to smash in a goal,” explained the German coach who once played the midfield for Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga. “I have am doing my best to introduce not just a controlled and possession style of play but discipline and organization to everything we do.”

Schafer, who scored 46 goals in his 17-year career in top-flight German football, said that it isn’t solely the German style of play that he is bringing to Thailand. “As a midfielder, you have to look at the big picture. You have to pass the ball and move it forward. You have to make passes, sound ones, and perfect ones. You have to organize well. When things do not go well, pull the ball back and start all over again. A system where you can execute again and again… that forms my philosophy.”

The 62-year old German went to Cebu to scout the Azkals noted with admiration the coaching of Hans Michael Weiss. “The Philippines for so long played long ball football but now you see them put the ball on the ground and play and exciting brand of attacking football. Their foreign players help a lot and that will improve the quality of play.”

“They have a quality to them and it is best for everyone to be wary of them rather than underestimate them.” Schafer pointed out the Younghusband brothers, James and Phil, winger Patrick Reichelt, and goalkeeper Eduard SacapaƱo as excellent players.

Schafer explained further and noted that since he doesn’t have the players for much time because they return to their respective clubs, their level of fitness goes up and down. But he also brought in a strict adherence to diet and conditioning as well as goalkeeping.

The Thais boast of a tough backline led by captain Panupong Wongsa. And Teerasil Dangda who scored 24 goals for Muangthong United in the Thai Premier League.

The Philippines in the meantime named its 22-man line up. Making it to the final list are tournament veterans Chieffy Caligdong, Rob Gier, Chris Greatwich, Ray Jonsson, Jason de Jong, Ed SacapaƱo, and James and Phil Younghusband.

Named to the tournament team for the first time are Marwin Angeles, Dennis Cagara, Jeffrey Christiaens, Ref Cuaresma, Angel and Juani Guirado, Jerry Lucena, Paul Mulders, Roland Muller, Carli de Murga, Demetrius Omphroy, Patrick Reichelt, Jason Sabio, and Denis Wolf.

“This match,” pronounced Schafer, “will come down to how efficient we are with our game plan.”

German efficiency, coach?

“Yes, but with a lot of national pride.”

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