Azkals name new coach
Former England captain Terry Butcher’s coaching career paled in comparison to what he accomplished as a player.
Having led his country to many historic feats as a player, Butcher has been gifted with a opportunity to bring a fast-rising football nation in the Philippines to greater heights in two major tournaments the next seven months.
A tough, hard-nosed defender during his international career, Butcher embarked on a coaching career that took him to Scotland and Australia, before being appointed coach of the Philippine national team that is set to see action in the AFC Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup and the AFF (Asean Football Federation) Suzuki Cup.
The 59-year-old Butcher’s role with the Azkals was announced Thursday night along with the appointment of former Irish coach Scott Cooper as senior director of the national team as manager Dan Palami took the lead in strengthening the back room staff in preparation for major tournaments in the next seven months.
“We needed somebody with a wide international experience, good leadership skills and a vast knowledge of international football,” Palami said. “Terry Butcher can provide us all of that.”
Butcher, who played 77 matches for England in a 10-year span that included three World Cup tournaments, last coached for English League Two side Newport County three years ago.
“I see this as a big challenge,” Butcher said in a video call from Moscow, Russia, where is currently based and covering the World Cup for BBC. “I see a lot of work ahead of us. But it will be fun work. It will be exciting work.”
Butcher acknowledged the efforts of former Azkals coach Thomas Dooley and the players for reaching the Asian Cup and achieving the country’s highest Fifa ranking.
“I have to say a big thank you to Thomas Dooley for getting the Azkals that far and for improving the team and believing in the team,” he said.
“I think with another team, behind the team, these are exciting times for the Philippines.”
Although he only moved to Asia five years ago after coaching English side Leicester’s youth team, Cooper has already gained plenty of experience, having steered Thailand League powerhouse Buriram United to the league title in his first season and the knockout phase of the prestigious AFC Champions League.
Cooper will play an active role in assisting Butcher as the England legend treads unchartered territory in Asian football.
“He (Butcher) will be ably assisted by a competent adviser in Scott Cooper who has a good record in Asian and Asean football so I’m quite happy with the tandem,” Palami said.
Butcher is looking forward to the challenge of handling an Azkals side teeming with talent.
“The players have to be challenged,” Butcher said.
“There’s a whole country that you are responsible for. I want to work hard for the team and strive to be the best. With success comes pressure so we can’t rest on our laurels. There’s no reason why we can’t get high as we possibly can.”
“We want to win games with a bit of style, with a bit of finesse,” Butcher said. “Lets make it fun. Let’s make people love watching good football. That’s our aim and our ambition.”