HE has only caught a glimpse of the local scene, but Thomas Dooley has probably seen enough to know who will lead the Philippine men’s football team in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in May.
Only a day after being introduced as the new Azkals coach, Dooley went to work right away as he watched two United Football League games on Saturday to scout possible call-ups for the national side.
“Obviously when Phil came in, you can see that he can kick a ball, so he’s a very, very skillful player,” Dooley said in a chat with Spin.ph after the double-header that also saw defending champion Stallion blanking Philippine Army, 3-0, in the nightcap.
It was no surprise the American-German mentor's attention was caught by Loyola Meralco star striker Phil Younghusband, who scored just three minutes after coming on off the bench to help his team salvage a 3-3 draw against Socceroo.
“He stood out when he came in,” said the former US national team skipper.. “If he would’ve played from the beginning, maybe it would’ve been a much easier game.”
Before Saturday, Dooley had only seen two games of the national team on video, the controversial 1-0 friendly win against Hong Kong last June, and the 8-0 romp against Cambodia in the Challenge Cup Qualifiers where Younghusband scored half of the Azkals’ goals.
“It was good to see Phil on the field, how he moves, how he does. And I was very impressed seeing him play live,” Dooley said.
While Phil seems to be a shoo-in, others have to prove themselves all over again.
“Everybody has to,” Dooley admitted. “Not because you played in the national team, it’s like a given. Obviously, players who’ve been in the national team and play good will always be there. That’s for sure.”
“But there’s possibility that people coming in and don’t train very well. Then you have to make a decision … to let them out,” he added.
Dooley, though, is well aware how hardworking Filipinos are.
“I just can’t see that (not training very well) in the Philippine mentality. So that’s why I’m thinking there will be no reason that somebody comes in and would like just to hang loose and because thinks he’s already there. If somebody plays the way he played before, he will be there.”
“First of all, I have to see everybody when they come to training and in the end, we’ll figure out who are the ones who can help us most,” he concluded.