Azkals coach Thomas Dooley being interviewed after the Philippines vs Azerbaijan game in Dubai. Photo by Bong Godinez, ABS-CBN Middle East Bureau
MANILA, Philippines – Football coach Thomas Dooley remains optimistic despite the Philippine Azkals’ tough 0-1 loss to Azerbaijan during their friendly game at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Wednesday.
The German-American coach praised the more fluid play of the Azkals, which led to several chances against the Azerbaijan side.
“I’m not disappointed at all. I’m happy that they created those chances. With time, we will finish those chances in the future,” he said.
Dooley also noted that the Azerbaijanis were bigger and more experienced players and these attributes posed problems for the Filipinos.
“You see the size of those guys and you see the size of our players, then you know it’s a very tough game. In the end, I told them that the only chance we had is to pay football. Football, in my opinion, is playing the ball on the ground, playing with each other,” he said.
For his part, Azkals team manager Dan Palami said the Philippine side played competitively, considering that the Azerbaijanis are ranked 34 places higher than the Azkals.
Azerbaijan is No. 93 in the world, while the Philippines is 127th in the FIFA men’s rankings.
“I’m quite optimistic with the team and I’m quite pleased with the performance tonight. All the boys were there and tonight we have the shown our host Dubai and also Azerbaijan how it is to fight like A Filipino and to fight like an Azkal,” said Palami.
The match is part of the Azkals' preparations for the AFC Challenge Cup, which will take place in Maldives in May this year.
The Philippine team will hold a training camp in the Middle East during the Holy Week. – From a report by Bong Godinez, ABS-CBN Middle East Bureau