Azkals try out Dooley’s new system
MANAMA, Bahrain—Almost a week into their training camp here, the Philippine Azkals are finally getting the hang of the system that coach Thomas Dooley is implementing.
Dooley described the Azkals’ training as “poor” on the first day, before seeing a gradual improvement heading into the friendly with Bahrain Monday night at Bahrain National Stadium.
The new system calls for the Azkals to play with just three players at the backline in a 3-4-3 system on attack that usually becomes a 5-4-1 formation on defense.
Dooley believes the Azkals could keep the ball better and widen their play with this scheme while being more compact defensively.
The Philippines has long been playing with four defenders in 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formations.
“I think we can do something differently and even if it doesn’t work at the beginning, we’re going to stick with it, we’re going to implement it and find the right players to be in those positions,” said Dooley.
Midfielder Jerry Lucena is optimistic that the system will work for the Azkals.
“It’s hard to get out of the comfort zone, but this is the way the coach wants to play and I’m sure everybody is working hard to make it work and make it better,” he said.
The match against Bahrain kicks off at 6:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. in Manila). Bahrain lost to world No. 3 Colombia, 0-6, last Thursday, but Lucena, who was part of the team that held the hosts to a scoreless draw the last time they met in 2012, expects a different game this time.
“Colombia was really good and Bahrain did not have a chance to show how good they are,” said Lucena.
Azkals manager Dan Palami stressed that the performance will be the priority over the result.
“Putting it into context, everything that we’re doing here is for the World Cup qualifiers,” said Palami. “A win will be a good result, but we’re more interested in looking at how we play the system.”
Keeper Neil Etheridge has been ruled out of the game after he sustained a cut at the back of his head following a freak accident during lunch with the Filipino community here Friday.
Roland Muller is available, while Dooley is expected to play Alvaro Silva alongside Juani Guirado and Amani Aguinaldo at the back.
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