Challenge Cup run validates Palami choice of coach Dooley
MALE, Maldives—Regardless of the result of the AFC Challenge Cup finals here, Philippine Team manager Dan Palami will always feel comfortable with the decision he made four months ago when he hired Thomas Dooley to coach the Azkals.
Taking over from coach Michael Weiss, who guided the Azkals to a couple of semifinal finishes in major tournaments, Dooley has helped the Azkals break new ground and on the cusp of history with Palestine standing in the way of the Philippines from Challenge Cup glory and a spot in the Asian Cup next year.
“I think he has reinforced my belief that I made the right decision in getting him as a coach and I think that he has proven that he can take us to another level,” Palami said of Dooley, a World Cup veteran and former United States skipper.
“I would think the most important thing is he knows exactly how he wants us to play and he’s able to impart it to the players. The best part of it is the players are given confidence and he doesn’t hesitate in putting new players and new faces into the mix.”
Indeed, every outfield player in the 23-man side has seen minutes on the pitch in this tournament where the Azkals have gone unbeaten in four matches so far. Dooley has also kept his faith on a couple of 19-year-olds, Amani Aguinaldo and Daisuke Sato, who are of the backline that has proven solid in the tournament.
“It’s amazing how everything went,” said Dooley, who worked as assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann with the US National Team as well as the Under-20 side under Tab Ramos. “I believed in the players that they are capable of playing at the next level and that’s what I told Dan Palami before I took the job.”