Philippines boss Weiss hails courageous Reichelt
Lion-hearted Patrick Reichelt has battled back from a career-threatening injury to star for the Philippines at the AFF Suzuki Cup.
The pacey winger set up Paul Mulder’s goal in the opening 2-1 loss to Thailand and, playing through the pain barrier, he put in a “man-of-the-match” performance in the dramatic 1-0 win over Vietnam which resurrected the Philippines hopes of reaching the last four for the second straight time.
Reichelt’s story reflects the huge effort that is being made to transform football in the Philippines and turn the national team into a major power in the region.
He was discovered by Philippine coach Michael Weiss 17 months ago when playing for FC Energie Cottbus in Germany but an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury sidelined him for 10 months putting attempts to lure him to the national team on hold.
On his recovery Reichelt briefly joined TSG Neustrelitz before accepting an offer to play for Philippines side Global FC in the blossoming United Football League and become a part of the national team set up.
The 24 year old made his international debut in the 0-0 away draw with Cambodia in September before bursting into the national football consciousness with the winner against Guam in the Peace Cup, describing it “as the best moment of my life, so far.”
The striker-cum-winger injected pace and power into the Philippines attack against Thailand and Weiss hinted that he would be in from the start on Tuesday before fate dealt him another bad hand.
Reichelt was involved in an accidental collision with Angel Guirado in training on Monday evening and required hospital treatment on a mouth full of broken teeth.
He was given painkillers and advised to have four wisdom teeth removed on his return to Manila but the setback seemed to motivate him more and he was outstanding in the 1-0 victory over Vietnam, earning rave reviews from Weiss.
“Patrick Reichelt was in hospital last night (Monday) and again this morning and for me was man of the match,” said the German tactician.
“He had a fantastic match performing with no fear, these are the people we need, the ones with fire in their hearts. I am proud of the boy.
“It was me who brought him over to the Philippines, it was me who built him up after his ACL and I am very happy for him ... probably his mother burst into tears (after the game).
“It is such a nice story. A young player who came from Germany ... he had a terrible injury and another setback on Monday with a training ground clash (yet played so well).”
Reichelt should be well enough to play in the final Group A match against Myanmar on Friday when a win would book the Philippines passage into the knock-out stage.
“If we beat Myanmar we are through and also have a good chance to go through with one point,” said Weiss. “Nobody can say Myanmar are the weakest team in the group. You saw the game against Vietnam, they played very well and could have won.
“They beat our under-23 team 5-0 last year and it would be naive to think - like some dreamers in the Philippines or wherever - that we are already through.
“I will not allow that attitude definitely - we will have to work very hard (for a result).”