MANILA, Philippines — Finally confirmed as national team coach after weeks of speculation, World Cup veteran Thomas Dooley is relishing the challenge of leading the Philippines to glory in the AFC Challenge Cup in May.
Dooley, 52, agreed to a one-year deal with the Philippine Football Federation, giving the former United States skipper an opportunity to handle a team that is looking to reach greater heights in two important tournaments this year.
PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta introduced Dooley to the media Friday, saying that the American-German will be bringing in fresh ideas to the Azkals.
“I’m excited with the task ahead,” said the soft-spoken Dooley, who retired after playing 81 times for the US, including two World Cup tournaments, and winning the Uefa Cup with German side Schalke.
“The goal is to win the Challenge Cup. It will be difficult but we need to deal with the circumstances. I want to form a team that plays for everyone,” added Dooley who replaced German Michael Weiss.
“With the entry of coach Dooley, the chances of winning the Challenge Cup got better,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.
Dooley said the lack of facilities in the country shouldn’t be an excuse to perform well in international competitions, even as he vowed to keep tabs with players based overseas in preparation for tournaments.
The Azkals have reached the semifinals of the last two AFF Suzuki Cup tournaments aside from a third-place finish in the Challenge Cup. But the team has also struggled with its style of play—something that Dooley intends to fix.
“I love football so much to not play the right way,” Dooley said. “I want to play an attractive style and fast-paced offensive game but still founded on the basics.”