MANILA, Philippines – Despite the Azkals lacking tune-up matches ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup, team manager Dan Palami is confident that coach Thomas Dooley will be able to steer the team to a favorable placing in the tournament.
The last time the Azkals played a friendly game was when they clashed with the Malaysian Tigers in a goalless draw on April 27. The team then flew to Bahrain for an intensive 10-day training camp.
"As it (the Challenge Cup) draws nearer, the day of reckoning comes so we have to face reality and there will be no time for us to say 'we wish we could have done it differently,'" said Palami in the Azkals' official website.
He prefers to have the players test themselves in more games, but due to club responsibilities of some Azkals players, they were unable to do so.
"It is a challenge for us, and we are ready to take it on," Palami said regarding the Challenge Cup, which begins on May 19. "It's really important for us."
The Philippines finished third place in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. This time, the Azkals will seek the top place and the 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualification that goes with it.
Palami said he is leaving it up to Dooley with regard to the selection of players for the final line-up.
"I would rather to see that case [players fighting for their spot in the lineup]," he said. "The difficulty of who to bring is already a testament of how strong the squad is."
"I'm confident that he [Dooley] knows what he wants and the players who will be up to the task."