Dooley still wants more from Azkals
MANAMA—The Philippine Azkals may be getting decent results in the World Cup qualifiers, but their performances still leave a lot to be desired as far as coach Thomas Dooley is concerned.
Dooley stressed the importance of getting preparations right down to the details to give the Azkals the best possible chance to advance to the third round of the qualifying tournament.
“I think we can only move forward if we get the details, the right structure in place,” said Dooley.
The German-American coach believes having a well-coordinated schedule with the United Football League is a start so players are fit and not burned out from competitions when they join the national side.
Majority of the players in the Azkals side play in the UFL while the rest of the team is based in Europe.
The Azkals are on the last leg of their punishing two-game away trip that saw them draw North Korea in Pyongyang before flying here to the Bahraini capital early this week.
Dooley said collecting seven points from their first four qualifying matches should be expected for the Azkals who were seeded third in Group H. North Korea and Uzbekistan lead the group with 10 and nine points, respectively.
“At the start, we knew we had a team that’s good enough to play, but its still difficult because we had a vision of how we want to play and we’re still working on it,” said Dooley.
“We knew we had a chance with the squad that we had and the motivation that we have,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami. “We know we have a chance to be at least No. 2. We’re hoping the game against North Korea next year will still have bearing.”
After Bahrain, the Azkals host winless Yemen at Rizal Memorial Stadium on Nov. 12. They resume their campaign on March 24 with a duel with Uzbekistan in Tashkent before wrapping up their campaign against North Korea at home on March 29.
The top team from the eight groups will advance to the next round along with the four best second placers which will also automatically clinch a spot in the Asian Cup in 2019.
The third placer in the group will earn a seat in the third round of Asian Cup qualifying.