THE future of Thomas Dooley as the head coach of the Philippine football team remains up in the air, as Azkals chief benefactor Dan Palami said the evaluation could last a month.
The contract of the outspoken head coach expired on March 31, just a few days after the Philippines booked its maiden Asian Cup appearance.
“There’s a lot of reasons for him to be extended. We’ve had our best performance under his tenure,” said Palami at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday.
“Ang kailangan na lang namin tingnan is the conditions, we’ll be talking to the players as well as how the players will respond to him. At the level of the Asian Cup, kaya pa (ba) magrespond ng players or can we be successful (with him)?” Palami added.
The Asian Cup qualification highlights Dooley’s achievements with the Azkals. However, the former skipper of the US Men’s national football team has become a polarizing figure as of late, with pundits questioning if he’s still the right man for the job after four years with the team moving forward.
Dooley had a highly-publicized clash with in-form Ceres Negros midfielder Stephan Schrock, something that’s yet to be resolved. Their past three performances before the Tajikistan, games which would have resulted into earlier qualification, has been sub-par to put it mildly.
“Ako naman, looking at the record that he has, I think maganda ang naipakita niya sa atin. Ang pinaguusapan na lang is at the level where we want to go, kung kayang mag-respond pa ng players sa kanya at kung madadala niya doon. Nasa evaluation process pa.”
While the future of Dooley remains uncertain, a bright one awaits for the Azkals with Palami eyeing several players to join the team heading into the Suzuki Cup in November and in the Asian Cup in January.
Germany-based players Gerrit Holtman and Raphael Obermair, and Swedish defender Jesper Nyholm are among the top prospects to join the team in their preparation towards United Arab Emirates.
Holtmann is a 23-year-old midfielder who currently plays for Bundesliga side FSV Mainz 05 and have been capped in the German under-20 side five times.
Obermair, 21, is in the reserve team of German powerhouse Bayern Munich and has been called up to the first team several times. Meanwhile, Nyholm is suiting up for AIK Fotboll in the Swedish top-flight.
“We’ve actually talked to the moms of the players who are playing in higher competitions. We have a player who is in Bayern Munich (Obermair). Sometimes he has been in the line-up of the first team in some of their games, even though he didn’t play, nasa bench na siya and it’s a testament to the quality that he has,” Palami said.
“We have a player from Mainz (Holtmann), another first division team in Germany. Nakausap na namin and interisado naman lahat. We have a Swedish defender (Nyholm) na gusto rin sumali sa team. At the same time, you’re looking at local football players who are exceptional sa league ngayon, sa UAAP, na kailangan ng exposure din.”