Dubai: The permanent appointment of interim coach Scott Cooper is “one of the options” the Philippines national team is “moving towards” ahead of the Asian Cup, according to Azkals manager Dan Palami.
Former England defender Terry Butcher withdrew from the role before his official start date earlier this month leaving Irish senior advisor Cooper to take interim charge.
“It was unfortunate,” Palami told Gulf News. “Terry had worked at the best and with the best football associations in England. We are far from that and we acknowledge that, and that is why we respect his decision.
“He wants all preparations to be up to a very detailed level and if England asks for friendlies, camps or other things, that can all be prepared in a jiffy, but with us we have to build gradually.
“We are not yet at that level. We are starting to become a better organisation but we have our limitations at this time, so we respect his position. Nevertheless I think we have a very competent team who could give us very good results as well at the Asian Cup.”
Of Cooper, who has had success with clubs in Thailand, Palami said: “He’s used to working in conditions that are not as perfect as other football associations.
“After talks with him he knows the direction he wants to take the team in and he will be ably advised by the coaches here. His philosophy and systems will be applied for the Asian Cup.”
Asked if Cooper would take the role permanently, Palami replied: “We are still working on that. That’s one of the options.
“We are fortunate to have our technical director Aris Caslib already getting his AFC Pro Licence. His experience as a Filipino plus the experience Scott can bring might be a solution for us. That’s still being explored. We are in talks with the president of the federation, but so far we are moving towards initially the direction of Scott handling the team for the Asian Cup.”
Thomas Dooley had been the coach who secured the Azkals’ first ever Asian Cup qualification in March, but wasn’t offered a contract renewal, prompting the appointment of Terry Butcher in June.
“I think the team and the players needed a fresh perspective moving forward,” said Palami of the decision not to retain Dooley. “Indeed Thomas Dooley was a very big part of the team for the past years, but the federation felt maybe it was time for a fresh perspective, a fresh outlook for the team going forward and going to another level.”
Dooley’s fall out with midfielder Stephan Schrock courted some controversy but Palami said the decision to reintegrate the player or not would now depend upon the new coach.
“It’s all up to the new coach actually, I’ve never interfered with coach player selection. I’ll give my views and whether it’s the same as the coach or not it doesn’t really matter because I defer to the coach when it comes to player selection. I’m sure everybody will be given a fair chance to be part of the team and we’ll see how it goes.”
The Asian Cup will be held in the UAE early next year from January 5 to February 1. The Philippines face South Korea, China and Kyrgyzstan in Group C. In the meantime, they have a training camp in Bahrain in September ahead of the Suzuki Cup in November.