PHILIPPINE men’s football team coach Thomas Dooley has fired back at dropout Stephan Schrock, saying the Azkal star’s actions were “unacceptable” and “unprofessional.”
“What Stephan did was unacceptable, unprofessional,” the Azkals coach said of Schrock, who announced on Monday, along with Dennis Cagara, he will not play for the national team so long as Dooley is in charge.
The feud started during the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup, where Schrock and Cagara complained about their diminished roles in the squad.
But Dooley stressed his decisions to limit their playing time was nothing personal and purely because they were nursing injuries.
Dooley said he decided to start Schrock off the bench in the semifinal against Maldives for the midfield dynamo to be fresh in case they made the finals, which they did, facing Palestine.
But the relegation didn’t sit well with Schrock, who started in the championship match but was seen clutching at his injured hamstring a handful of times, prompting Dooley to replace him at halftime.
But Dooley felt Schrock refused to understand his decision-making, which led to the player’s hint at leaving.
“I’m sad when players are selfish and put themselves ahead of the team, lying, and being selfish. That’s poison to the team,” the usually soft-spoken mentor said.
Because of his actions, the German-American mentor said he has decided that Schrock, arguably the Azkals’ finest talent, won’t have a chance to suit up for his squad in the future.
“He will not play for my team anymore,” he said. “You don’t need the best players to win, but the best team.”
In Cagara’s case, Dooley said the emergence of other left-backs, including Filipino-Japanese teenager Daisuke Sato, has given him more options.
Dooley told Cagara, the standout Filipino-Danish left-back who played just one game in the Challenge Cup, that Sato was better than him at the time of the Challenge Cup since he was in tip-top shape.
That led to the injured Cagara, who started playing for the national team in 2011, seeing little action in the tournament, a rare occurrence.
“It’s not what you did five years ago," Dooley said. "It’s about your performance now.”
Dooely also maintained that he was honest with Cagara, who earlier said in a Yahoo Sports Philippines report that he was disappointed of his exclusion from the initial Peace Cup training squad.
Cagara also needed to leave the Challenge Cup last May to return home to Denmark and help his professional team Lyngby FC in its battle for promotion in the Danish first division.
Cagara said in the report he hoped his leaving would not affect his future with the Azkals and received a positive reply.
But he was still excluded from the Peace Cup training lineup.
Dooley, however, went back to the argument of having more options this time.
“I was honest from the beginning. I told every player in the team what they can expect from me. Criticisms are not personal.”
“We cannot invite five to six left-backs. Do we invite players, spend thousands of dollars, and not play them?” the coach added.
Cagara said he was disappointed that Dooley didn’t inform him of his omission.
“They should call me to ask why they have been left out,” Dooley said.
Dooley stressed the issue has not affected the team’s preparations for the Peace Cup and the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup at all.