By Olmin Leyba
MANILA, Philippines - Azkals coach Thomas Dooley is looking at as many as six international matches for his wards in the next three months as part of their buildup for the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup in November.
According to Dooley, arrangements are being made for a training camp and matches in Qatar and for one or two more friendlies at home before leaving for Hanoi for the group stages of the Nov. 22-Dec. 20 Suzuki Cup.
“We’re going to Qatar and have four games and then definitely we want to play again in the Philippines before we go to the Suzuki Cup,” said the German-American mentor.
The Azkals are reeling from their 2-3 setback to Myanmar in extra trime in the 2014 PFF Peace Cup finals last Saturday at Rizal Memorial. It was the second finals heartbreaker in four months for Phl XI, which earlier lost to Palestine, 0-1, in the gold medal match of the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup last May in Maldives.
“I hate losing. I lost two finals now and I want to get one more (final stint) this year and I want to win that one,” Dooley said, referring to the Suzuki Cup.
A former US skipper and World Cupper who took over last February, Dooley believes the Azkals are gaining progress.
“I’m still happy how we’re doing in the last seven months,” he said.” The team is moving forward, everything is moving forward and I think we’re on the right track. It’s now a matter of figuring out how we can play our best game and win in the final.”
Raddy Avramovic, who has twice defeated the Azkals, first as Singapore tactician in the 2012 Suzuki Cup semifinals and now as mentor for Peace Cup champ Myanmar, sees the improvement of the Phl side.
“From that period (Suzuki Cup), I think they have a lot more quality now. And you must give them time (to reach their full potential,” said Avramovic.