by Cedelf P. Tupas
A two-year contract extension is in place for coach Thomas Dooley who steered the Philippines to a runner-up finish in the AFC Challenge Cup and another semifinal appearance in the AFF Suzuki Cup early this year.
The Philippine Football Federation has already offered Dooley the new contract that will pave the way for the coach to handle the team that will play in the World Cup Qualifiers next year.
Dooley’s current contract runs until February, but the coach met with Azkals manager Dan Palami and PFF president Mariano Araneta earlier in the week to discuss the terms of the new deal.
Palami said Dooley will be evaluated at the end of every year.
“We’re quite happy with the development of the team under coach Dooley,” said Palami.
The German-American coach replaced Michael Weiss last February and implemented a more possession-based style of play. Dooley also showed trust on younger players like Daisuke Sato and Amani Aguinaldo.
The Challenge Cup in the Maldives last May proved to be the first real test for Dooley who came within a whisker of leading the Azkals to a first major title and a spot in the AFC Asian Cup.
Dooley was at the center of controversy after a highly publicized falling out with star Stephan Schrock came in the aftermath of the Challenge Cup loss.
But the Azkals bounced back at the end of the year with a string of impressive performances in the Suzuki Cup, beating Laos and Indonesia on their way to the semifinals where they bowed to eventual champion Thailand.
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