WHILE acknowledging it’s too early to tell how strong his team is, Philippine men’s football team coach Thomas Dooley likes what he’s seeing.
The German-American coach saw a glimpse of some of the new faces in the fold as the Azkals held their first local training session on Monday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, less than two weeks before they open their World Cup qualifing campaign against Bahrain on June 11.
Filipino-German Kevin Ingreso and Fil-British Luke Woodland were the new acquisitions who attended training as well as returnees Stephan Schrock and Neil Etheridge, who all linked up with the local crew.
Fil-Australian Iain Ramsay was in street clothes as he just arrived from the airport, while Fil-Austrian Stephan Palla is expected to come in next week, along with Javier Patiño, and Jerry Lucena.
With the Azkals undergoing light training, Dooley reserved judgment until he has a complete lineup.
“But when you think where they’re coming from, they should raise our level,” Dooley said. “And we expect bigger competition in training and bigger competition in the game.”
“We’re looking at a team that is improving,” team manager Dan Palami said. “We have stronger players now. talagang dapat abangan natin kung paano sila makakatulong sa bansa natin and paano sila magco-combine as a team.”
The idea of having more options, alone, excites the Azkals boss.
“Looking at the possible formations and the high level of the football IQ that is present, I’m sure you’ll be seeing good team play as well as individual display of skills,” Palami said.