SIMON McMenemy has roughly six weeks to prepare for his first international tournament as manager of the Philippine Men’s National Team (MNT).

In an Aug. 25 article published on England’s Worthing Herald (courtesy of a post from Filipinofootball.blogspot.com), the 32-year-old coach flew in last Monday to the Philippines for his new stint.

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McMenemy will be on a two-month probation before signing a one-year contract, if things go well, the article said. The Englishman was the former assistant manager of Worthing Football Club, which plays at an eight-tier division in English football.

Following the unfortunate Des Bulpin experience, I am sure the National Team Management Office under football visionary Dan Palami has learned its lessons and will try its best to insulate McMenemy from the toxic elements of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).

Earlier this month, Palami had told me that so far, the PFF has granted the management office’s wishes for non-interference.

Hopefully, Palami, who is single-handedly financing the MNT, and McMenemy could forge a potent partnership within this two-month period for a decent showing at the AFC Suzuki Cup that kicks off Oct. 20.

Like McMenemy, another national team coach is looking at only a few weeks to before a big tournament.

Philippine Women’s Under-16 Coach Leticia “Buda” Bautista is hoping to build a team for the AFC Qualifiers on Oct. 15.

She has conducted tryouts in Bacolod, San Carlos City and yesterday in Cebu. Today, she is flying to Davao.

So what does Buda think of yesterday’s tryouts?

“The girls need to improve their basic skills,” she said yesterday after the tryouts at the Aboitiz football field, adding that some of those who were technically sound were “inconsistent.”

She was quick to add, though, that the girls’ performance, given the short span of time to show their wares, could have been mainly due to “kaba” or nervousness.

Buda might be nervous herself with the tough international competition ahead of her.

By next week, she would have picked the members of the U-16 squad.

When I asked her of her expectations, her answer was grounded: “During the tournament, what we want is to control the games.”

That meant not allowing the teams to dictate the tempo and to stop them from scoring.

Buda doesn’t aim for the spectacular, but she pointed out that the U-16 selection serves a far-reaching purpose.

“With the core of the U-16 squad, we can identify U-14 players, and for the long term, the U-19,” she said with a hint of optimism.

(nsvillaflor@gmail.com)