THE deflating departure of Stephan Schrock and Dennis Cagara from the Philippine men’s football team was triggered by events during the Azkals’ campaign in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup last May.
Azkals fans were left in shock on Monday when Schrock and Cagara announced separately that they will not don the national colors as long as coach Thomas Dooley is in charge of the squad.
“As long as coach Dooley will lead the team, I won’t wear the jersey of the Azkals again,” Schrock posted on his Facebook account.
“Dooley is also the reason why I won’t play for the Azkals at the moment,” Cagara posted on his Twitter account just hours after Schrock’s announcement.
Spin.ph learned from a source close to team management that both European-based standouts had already hinted about leaving the team more than two months ago after having diminished roles in the tournament for emerging footballing nations in the continent.
Schrock and Cagara appear to have an inexplicable grudge with Dooley, who has instilled a style of play that leans more on teamwork and less on individual skill.
“It’s an ego thing,” said the team insider, who requested not to be named. “It’s no more than egos bashing the coach.”
The feud reached its height in the Challenge Cup final against Palestine more than two months ago in Maldives where Schrock, nursing a hamstring injury, saw action for just one half, the least minutes he played for the Azkals ever.
The source said Schrock, who started at left wing in a 4-3-3 formation — which required a heavy workload for the wings, appeared to clutch at his hamstring a handful of times and could not fulfill his duty as desired, making him a target by the Palestinians.
Dooley then decided to replace the injured midfield dynamo at halftime, but players saw their Filipino-German teammate insisting to continue playing in the second half to no avail.
As a result, Schrock informed team manager Dan Palami after the match, which the Azkals lost, 0-1, of his intention to leave the squad.
Palami, according to the team insider, stood by Dooley’s decision to sub Schrock and tried to explain to the midfielder, arguably the Azkals’ finest talent, that he was he was not playing for the coach, but for the country.
It was the same situation for Cagara, who, the source said, had earlier in the Challenge Cup voiced his displeasure over his limited playing time. The Filipino-Danish left-back, who was also nursing an own foot injury, suited up for just one game in the tournament.
Cagara has been a rock on defense, but his injury and the emergence of Filipino-Japanese teenager Daisuke Sato has left him stuck in a role off the bench.
Palami could not be reached as of posting time.