Dooley praises Azkals ‘unbelievable’ effort in World Cup qualifers
More than just words emblazoned on the team’s shirts, coach Thomas Dooley was elated with the way the Philippine Azkals has stayed true to their mantra through out their Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign.
Though unable to advance to the next stage, Azkals had toppled down superior football nations in the second round of the qualifiers.
“Like the words written in our shirts: We Believe,” he said. “That was the main thing for us, that we can believe in ourselves, that we can play football against teams like Uzbekistan and North Korea, that we can beat teams that are ranked higher, teams who went to the World Cup. ”
Rounding out its campaign with 10 points on three wins and a draw, the Philippine side showed how far its belief can take the team, bowing out in style with a 3-2 stunner against the favored North Korean side Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“I like those kind of moments, those kind of games. I’m really happy with the effort of the players,” said Dooley. “We want to show to the people, to our fans here in our last game, that we have the same enthusiasm we had playing against Uzbekistan, that we’re here to play football. We didn’t do that all the time, but doing that against a very experienced team like North Korea, I’m very happy with the outcome.”
The American coach also praised the team’s resilience after stilling coming out with tremendous effort amid high levels of stress and constant exhaustion.
“I know this is not a football country, and a lot of people in here haven’t played it on a high level. When you’re an athlete, every little detail is important,” Dooley said.
“When you see how strong our group is with North Korea, Bahrain and Uzbekistan, even Yemen, compared to the other groups, it was really difficult for us. On top of that, we had the worst travel schedule because we were all over the world. As a player, when you have that kind of stress and you have a performance like this, and we had so many injuries in the last 10 days, and the players still had to believe in themselves that they can do it, that kind of effort is so unbelievable and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”
That’s why Dooley is hoping that whatever the team has gotten throughout the experience will be a stepping stone for the Azkals’ future.
“I hope the players understand the things we did to achieve what we had. The more time we train, watching the clips, the more thinking of the preparation for the games, the better we will be and we’ll make less mistakes,” he said.
“Obviously we won’t make it to the World Cup right now, but if we believe that it will happen, one day, we will be.”