Azkals look to build momentum but wary of in-form Chinese Taipei

Philippines will be looking to make it two wins in a row in Michael Weiss' second stint at the helm against Chinese Taipei on Monday, after grinding out a 1-0 victory over Nepal on Friday. Philippine Football Federation

Following an inspiring 1-0 result against Nepal last Thursday, Philippines will look to build on newfound momentum when they take on dangerous-looking Chinese Taipei on Monday night.

Chinese Taipei enter the friendly full of confidence following a confidence-building 2-2 draw against AFC Asian Cup-bound Thailand that left coach Gary White pleased.

"Yeah, it was a great result," said White, who was reappointed just last month after previously leading Chinese Taipei in 2017.

"The players were fantastic. We're a little bit disappointed we didn't put away some of the other chances to win the game, but Thailand was such a strong team and they had their strongest team out on the field, which was great for our younger players.

"It was a very strong Thailand team, probably the strongest Thailand team I've faced as a coach. Obviously, they're preparing for the Asian Cup, so it was great to have that type of challenge and see how our young players dealt with that pressure.

"We stayed compact and we stayed very organized defensively and we had a very clear plan when we had the ball in transition and we caught them.

"They found it difficult to break us down and it was great for our players to deal with such quality players in front of them and give them confidence that they know that they can play at that level."

Like Azkals counterpart Michael Weiss, White is using this June window to prepare his team for the Asian qualifiers of the 2026 FIFA World Cup down the road, with Monday's game a step in that direction.

"Going into this game, we know there's a lot of things we have to improve on," White added.

"Obviously, whenever you take a new team, it always takes time to merge together, but the players are really moving at a fast speed.

"We're trying to reinvent our identity and our DNA and the players are listening and they're working very, very hard. And we just got to be a little bit more clinical in the final third and put away chances when they come along.

"We've only had six training sessions, so it's been a very short period of time. So our goals are long-term goals. This is a great opportunity to see some young players play in preparation for September and October games.

"Our goal is purely performance. Obviously, we want to win the game, but if we can get a good performance, we know that the result will come through.

"And we know the Azkals is a strong team, many players from all over the place playing, and it'll be a good experience for our younger team."

Philippines coach Michael Weiss also came away impressed with Chinese Taipei, stating: "My expectations is that this will be an even tougher match than the first match (against Nepal), because (Chinese) Taipei showcased them in a very good manner in their recent game against Thailand.

"And they already played Thailand last year in December in an unofficial friendly match in Thailand.

"I was there. I saw the match and they could even (have beaten) Thailand on home soil. Thailand with a very strong team -- (Chinese Taipei) could hold them to a 2-2, which is a very respectable result.

"They are very compact. They are quick on the transition and physically strong. Maybe not yet on the technical level that you may expect, but it's about getting results.

"It's about being compact, aggressive, and this is what they are, and this is what they will show here in Manila.

"For me, these (matches) are more about observation and seeing all the players in training and see who can help us for the way how we want to play."

Ever since returning to the Philippines, Weiss has preached about getting the Azkals to press forward more on offense.

He hopes to execute that against Chinese Taipei after a decent but unspectacular effort against Nepal.

"In general, we want to push a little bit more forward," admitted Weiss.

"We want to create more chances. We want to be more on an attacking threat, particularly home, particularly on the artificial pitch in Rizal Memorial (Stadium). And that's what it will be all about for tomorrow as well.

"But what I can promise is we will have a good, confident and joyous team which will try to get on the forefront and put the gas pedal on and show something to the people.

"Because even though things were not perfect in the last game, I think we already saw some glimpses of going forward and being more of an attacking threat and trying to put opponents under pressure.

"The (Chinese Taipei) coach is a very experienced coach and he knows what he is doing with the personnel he has at hand. So we have to always be watching out and never be too sure (or) take things for granted.

"It is just a few days and I am building up on the things and the personnel from the past. Many players know each other, but I think they can play better in the way -- more offensive oriented, more on a pressing style. In this camp we saw that they are not in the best physical condition, but we caught up a little bit in the last few days."

Weiss is also hoping for more fans in the stands after around 3,000 showed up on Thursday night, as he said: "When I look back on the videos from 2011 and even when (Philippines) qualified for the (2019) Asian Cup -- when the stadiums were full, when many people come -- even if it is only the main stand, I mean it is absolutely helpful.

"The players hate to play with marginal spectator numbers. They want to be supported, they want to feel the love and you have to be together.

"Of course, me coming now back from the past and knowing what happened in the past, I think all of us, we want that again. After the game I saw that people were quite happy even if things were not perfect.

"But it will come, I am very positive it will come. Let's go for tomorrow's game and hopefully many, many people can come."