It was over before it all even began. And now, the Philippine Azkals are left to pick up the pieces and move on.
Sources said the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and Azkals management are seriously considering Aris Caslib as a replacement for Terry Butcher, who abruptly quit his post as coach of the men’s national football team Friday, before he even handled a single game.
Caslib was also the last Filipino coach to handle the Azkals in 2009 and is expected to be a transition mentor while team manager Dan Palami and the PFF come up with a short list of possible replacements for Butcher.
In the aftermath of the resignation, Palami said Scott Cooper would handle team preparations for upcoming tournaments, but Palami and the PFF will still have to look for a coach who will run the team during tournaments because Cooper doesn’t have the AFC equivalent of a pro license.
A source said the team is not expected to be disrupted too much in its preparations despite the resignation because Cooper was actually the initial choice for the Azkals top post.
His lack of accreditation, though, paved the way for the hiring of former England skipper Butcher, who jolted the country early Friday by announcing his resignation.
The 59-year-old, who was appointed in mid-June replacing Thomas Dooley, said in a statement: “The vital issue for myself was to carefully build a robust plan to meet the football ambitions of the national team.”
“Regretfully, I’ve not been able to make this work in the way that I intended and I’ve decided not to continue in this role.”
Butcher was expected to arrive in Manila next week to lay the groundwork of the Azkals’ preparations for the AFF Suzuki Cup in November and the AFC Asian Cup in January next year.
“We understand and respect his decision,” Palami said. “But in Scott Cooper, we also have another brilliant football mind who can help us lay the groundwork in building a strong team for the next two tournaments.”
Irishman Cooper will now temporarily take over the buildup of the team that starts with a camp in Bahrain on the first week of September.
Azkals manager Dan Palami expressed confidence that Cooper can whip the Azkals into form heading into the two major tournaments.