MANILA, Philippines — With a new coach set to take over, the talent pool for the Philippine football team that will see action in the AFC Challenge Cup will also be expanded, giving more players a chance to crack the 25-man lineup.
Azkals manager Dan Palami said they plan to come up with a 40-player pool from where the lineup for the Challenge Cup in the Maldives in May will be selected.
“We’re giving more players a chance to prove their worth,” said Palami. “This is part of our goal to build a stronger local core.”
Palami has selected former US skipper Thomas Dooley as Azkals coach, succeeding German Michael Weiss.
Armed with plenty of experience playing at international level, the Azkals’ head coaching role is a first for Dooley, who is flying to Manila next week to finalize the deal with the Philippine Football Federation.
As news of Dooley’s impending appointment leaked Friday night, the PFF was quick to clarify that he has yet to agree to terms with the federation.
“I think his experience as a player and as a coach will help us,” said Palami of Dooley who skippered the US in the 1998 World Cup. “After talking to several candidates, who also had good credentials, we think that he is the best choice.”
Dooley’s immediate task is to whip a team into fighting form for the Challenge Cup that serves as qualifier for the AFC Asian Cup in Australia next year.