Azkals feast like kings as Dooley relaxes strict diet rules after big win over Indonesia
Midfielder James Younghusband gives in to his cravings as he and the rest of the Azkals celebrate the historic 4-0 romp over longtime nemesis Indonesia. Karlo Sacamos

HANOI – This is one triumph that certainly deserves a reward.

So in the hours afer the the Philippine men's football team's stunning 4-0 rout of Indonesia that sealed its entry to the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinals, the Azkals feasted like Kings at the team hotel's restaurant.

Azkals coach Thomas Dooley normally preaches eating healthy to his players but gave his wards a little leeway this time, allowing them to eat fries and pizza, among other comfort food on the buffet table.

“It’s important that we have to take care of the diet and you shouldn’t eat any fried foods,” the German-American mentor said in a chat with

[See Azkals book ticket to Suzuki Cup semis after stunning four-goal romp against Indonesia]

“But they can eat anything tonight,” he was quick to add with a smile. “After a game like this … you can celebrate — you should celebrate.”

After all, the Azkals not only clinched a knockout stage berth with still a group match to spare, but they also defeated the Indonesians for the first time in eight decades.

James Younghusband was among those who gave in to cravings for once.

“You always have temptations,” the Azkals midfielder said.

“But I think you have to surround yourself with a good environment, so when I’m at home, I try my best to do the best of grocery shopping and be surrounded by the good foods that will help me perform.”

While Dooley, who, at 52, still looks fit to play, sets boundaries, the coach knows how to live a little.

“He’s not too strict,” Younghusband said. “They give advice and I think it’s the right advice and fortunately we’re in a nice hotel with a lovely buffet.”

The Azkals enjoyed their freedom while it lasted as it was back to their healthy routine the next day.

“Sometimes we look them over and let them know that this is not good; it’s just too fattening. It’s not good for your body,” Dooley said. “When you put bad gas on your car, your car doesn’t drive.

“So as much as possible, you have to give the best food to your body to do the best thing and that’s what we try and teach them a little,” added the former US national team skipper, who also sets an 11 p.m. curfew for his players.


[See Big blow to Azkals as injury could keep out Guirado for rest of Suzuki Cup]

Younghusband echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“I try to cut down on carbs and focus mainly on a lot of vitamins whether it be vegetables or fruits and a lot of protein, because if you have too much carbs, it will weigh you down,” the 28-year-old booter said. “You need a lot of carbs, though, to last in a game.”

After all, Younghusband has yet to see action in the last two games, so he is intently preparing as he looks forward to his first appearance.

“I want to play as much as I can and I really want to contribute, but the team’s performing well and it’s up to me to try my best and be patient for my chance and show what I can do.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos