HANOI – The efforts of Thomas Dooley in turning the Philippine men’s football team into a well-oiled machine is set to be rewarded.
Although Dooley is still a long way away from leading the Azkals to the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup title, national team manager Dan Palami has expressed satisfaction with the German-American coach’s performance.
The Azkals boss has in fact hinted that he is inclined to extend the mentor’s tenure.
“I have to give credit to the coaches for really bringing the team to this level,” Palami said of the staff, which also includes German assistant Sebastian Stache and goalkeeping coach Jorge Kuriyama of Mexico. “It did not come by accident.”
It was a fast transformation for the Azkals, who were sluggish in the friendlies leading into the tournament before displaying a performance Palami described as the “best I’ve seen them play” in a 4-0 romp over Indonesia on Tuesday.
“I think the drills and how they prepared the team have been very instrumental in allowing us to show it on the pitch,” the Azkals boss said. “The coaches were readily responsive to the challenge and they were able to tweak our midfield and defense such that is has come to this result.”
“And this team has had a lot of firsts under coach Thomas,” Palami added as Dooley steered the Azkals to numerous breakthroughs this year since the former US national team skipper signed a one-year contract last February.
It was in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup where the Azkals broke new ground as they defeated Laos, Maldives, and Turkmenistan, and reached a Final of a tournament for the first time.
“So I’m recommending that PFF (Philippine Football Federation) extends his contract,” Palami said.
How long would the extension be?
“Depends on (how long) I can still afford him,” he said in jest.
Dooley assured the best hast yet to come for the Azkals.
“You always can play better. It’s like when you talk to Tiger Woods in his best times and ask if he’s playing perfect and he would say: ‘I’m far away from perfect.’”
“We are far away from perfect too,” he added. “You still could see that our positioning when we play the ball around the box is sometimes not good. You can always improve.”