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MANILA, Philippines – Will the real Azkals head coach please stand up?
Confusion has surrounded the situation over who will fill the coaching void for the Philippine national football team, with conflicting tweets from the official Azkals Twitter account and team manager Dan Palami compounding the situation.
By Thursday afternoon, the mystery over who would replace former coach Michael Weiss seemed to be dying down, as ABS-CBN sports personality TJ Manotoc retweeted a message stating that the new Azkals coach would be named on his ABS-CBN Sports and Action program “The Score.”
But when the 15-minute program passed without an announcement, football fans were left scratching their heads.
On Friday afternoon, the official Azkals Twitter account seemed to put the issue to rest when they announced that former US team captain Thomas Dooley, 52, had been selected as the new coach.
Official: Former US international and captain Thomas Dooley has been selected to be the new Azkals head coach.— Azkals (@PHI_Azkals) January 31, 2014
Palami confirmed the news shortly after, endorsing Dooley’s credentials as a coach. “Very tough selection process, but quite confident that the selection of Thomas Dooley as Azkals coach will bring the team to another level,” wrote Palami.
The 2010 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Dooley, who had been a part of the 1994 and 1998 US World Cup teams before working as an assistant coach for the US team, had even added the new job title “Men’s Head Coach Philippine Football Federation” to his LinkedIn account.
That’s when matters became clouded.
Shortly afterward, Palami released a tweet stating that the deal to bring Dooley in was not finalized, and that negotiations were still “ongoing.”
“To be clear, final negotiations re terms of contract lis still ongoing but will be finalized when he arrives next week and meet w/ PFF,” tweeted Palami.
Veteran sportswriter Ronnie Nathanielsz tweeted that he had spoken with PFF president Mariano Araneta, Jr., who said he would be interviewing another candidate via Skype tonight.
A Facebook message to Palami requesting comment wasn’t returned.
The Azkals are scheduled to face Malaysia in a friendly match on March 1 in preparation for the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in May.
Having a head coach and some practice sessions prior to then would enhance their chances of victory exponentially. – 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.