CEBU CITY—With his first major tournament in charge four weeks away, Philippines coach Thomas Dooley believes the Azkals’ buildup for the AFC Challenge Cup is right on track even as he prepares to trim down the pool of players that he will bring for training camp in Bahrain on May 6.
Only 23 players will make the squad to the Challenge Cup and for players, like the returning Carlie De Murga, the match against Malaysia Sunday night here could be their last chance at impressing Dooley.
“It’s very important for us to prepare for the Challenge Cup and to have a send-off game here in Cebu,” said Dooley. “I want to use the match to motivate my players.”
Although he still has one more training camp left, Dooley expressed satisfaction over the preparations that have seen the Azkals play in Dubai and Doha, Qatar.
The Azkals have actually coped well even without some of their stars in previous matches like the 3-0 win over Nepal two weeks ago.
“I’m very happy where we are right now,” said Dooley, who has a new assistant coach in Bruno Baltazar from Portugal.
Azkals manager Dan Palami expressed optimism of a strong showing in the Challenge Cup with Dooley at the helm.
“Since the first game, I have given him high marks,” said Palami. “I feel we are on the right track. He has been understanding to us.”