Former US captain Thomas Dooley announced as new Azkals coach
MANILA, Philippines - After much speculation, the Philippine Football Federation has announced that former United States captain Thomas Dooley will be the new head coach of the Philippine National Team.
At a press conference Friday morning at the PFF House of Football headquarters in Pasig City, Dooley was formally introduced by Azkals team manager Dan Palami and PFF president Mariano Araneta as the man who will replace departing coach Hans Michael Weiss.
Dooley was all smiles throughout, underlining his enthusiasm for the new position.
“I’m very honored, humbled and excited to take this task,” said the 52-year-old German-American. “The biggest, shortest goal we have is to win the (AFC)Challenge Cup (in Maldives in May) because this is an important task. I’m very excited to take this task, it may not be very easy but it’ll be worth it.”
Dooley says that he has only seen the Azkals play twice on video and would immediately address getting to know the players individually.
Dooley said he will reach out to Azkals players in Manila and those competing in pro leagues in Europe to discuss his philosophies, which will center around the 4-2-3-1 formation. The situation isn’t ideal however, as Dooley will have to split time with the United Football League (UFL) for practices. Dooley says that he hopes to arrange two practices a week, even if it doesn’t involve running the field.
“Technically they are pretty good, 90% of the players,” said Dooley of the squad rated no. 127th by FIFA. “Tactically, I think we have to work a little bit. You don’t win championships with one single player, it always has to be a team effort. It doesn’t matter if you have the best player, you have to form a team to make it happen. That’s my biggest task to accomplish, that we have a team where everybody plays for everybody."
Added Araneta: “We are serious about our preparation for the Challenge Cup because this is a big tournament for the Philippine team. The winner will go to the Asian Cup in Sydney in 2015 and we hope to win the tournament. That’s why we have to bring in fresh ideas to the team. That is why we took the necessary steps to bring in a new coach to the team.
“With his credentials, we hope we will be up to the task. We are confident and know that everyone in the PFF will be supportive of the move. I just want to assure the new coach he will have the full support of the Federation.”
Dooley, who had been based in Los Angeles, Calif., arrived in the Philippines on Thursday night. Dooley became an American citizen in 1992 and joined the U.S. team that year, representing the country in the 1994 and 1998 in the FIFA World Cup.
Dooley became the U.S. team captain before the '98 World Cup. Dooley finished his playing career in 1999 with 81 caps (international starts) and 7 goals.
Dooley noted that, despite being a basketball country, the Philippines has a large upside for cultivating talent. He likens the situation of the Philippine team to the U.S. squad he joined in 1992 that preceded the boom in the sport’s popularity later that decade.
“I really see some similarities, maybe the U.S. was a little bit further because they were getting to the World Cup in 94,” said Dooley. “In the U.S. we had 20 million kids who played soccer. I know the Philippines is a basketball country, but I know that we just talked about that this morning, the potential that this country has in developing players is huge.”
Dooley won't have much time to acquaint with his team before their first outing, which is set for March 5 against Azerbaijan in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The 94th ranked Azerbaijan is the first match the Philippine team will play against a European squad since 1997. - Rappler.com
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com. An archive of his work can be found at ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.