Azkals have less than two weeks to prepare for World Cup qualifiers
Coach Thomas Dooley undertsands the players' commitment to their mother clubs and only hope they can make the most of the short training period. Jaime Campos

THE Philippine men’s football team will try to make do with the little preparation time it has ahead of the start of the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers in the middle of next month.

Players still have club commitments until the end of the month, and coach Thomas Dooley has set a local training camp starting June 1, giving him less than two weeks to whip his wards into shape for their major tournament of the year.

“What can we do? We just have to deal with what we get and have a short window where we have to work with and do as much as we can,” the Azkals coach said on Friday.

Dooley admitted he would have wanted to have more time with his players, most plying their trade in the United Football League.

“It’s (training time) never enough,” he said ahead of the Azkals’ opener of the first-round qualifying for the world’s showpiece event on June 11 against Bahrain at the Philippine Stadium. “If I could have them for two months or the whole year, I would.”

“But I’m not complaining,” the German-American mentor was quick to add. “I’m just saying it’s kind of hard. In that time, you can only do so much.”

The last time the Azkals linked up was in a training camp in Bahrain last March.

The late availability of the national booters has also forced the Philippine Football Federation to scrap plans of a friendly against an available footballing neighbor. The PFF was eyeing a friendly against Malaysia on June 31.

One thing going for the Azkals is the return of star midfielder Stephan Schrock and striker Javier Patiño as well as the anticipated arrival of new acquisitions in Iain Ramsay, Stephen Palla, Luke Woodland, and Kevin Ingreso.

Dooley said the overseas-based standouts, including Jerry Lucena, are set to arrive in the first week of June, while Palla is expected to arrive later as the Filipino-Austrian defender is getting married on June 6.

“The quality of players you have plus the preparation you can do equals the success that you can have,” Dooley said. So you cannot say you want to win the World Cup and we don’t train together. Everything has to work together.”

“I will try to work with the players as much as possible that they get as much information as possible about the opponent, that they have confidence,” the no-nonsense coach said. “But everybody should bring one-hundred percent.”


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