MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Azkals coach Thomas Dooley vowed never to let Stephan Schröck play for the Philippine national team following their bitter feud that spilled to social media sites.
In a press conference on Thursday, Dooley maintained that he didn’t kick out Schröck, Neil Etheridge and Dennis Cagara from the Azkals.
He explained that the coaching staff has decided to assemble a team composed of players who are readily available for practices and could maintain cohesion with the squad.
“It’s about finding a good mix of young and experienced players for the team,” the former US Team captain said as posted on the team's official Twitter account.
Dooley admitted that he was put off by Schröck’s pronouncements, citing that what the player did was unacceptable and “unprofessional.”
“I am surprised [but I am] also prepared,” said Dooley, who took over the Azkals’ coaching reins from Michael Weiss. “He will not play for my team anymore.”
In a separate interview with ABS-CBN’s Dyan Castillejo, Dooley even labelled the German-Filipino as a "poison" to the team.
“If we have a player in the team who turns out like this, it's somebody that has to be taken out of the team. It's kind of poison in the team,” said the coach, who added that he didn’t mind losing Schröck.
“It's not a big thing at all. I mean everybody says he's the best player... We have a lot of players who's better than Stephan,” he insisted.
Schröck earlier said he was unwelcome under Dooley and that he felt “disrespected” when some of his team mates were left out for the upcoming Peace Cup.
“Coach Dooley, he wants to go another way. He wants to build up the team without people from Europe or Filipino foreigners or whatever. I don't feel welcome,” Schröck said. “That's the reason why I'm taking a break, resigning or whatever you want to call it.”
“It was kind of he was not respecting me and my team members for what we did for the country,” said the German-Filipino.
Etheridge, for his part, was saddened by the news that Schröck and Cagara have already resigned from the team.
Etheridge, who wasn’t included in the pool for the Peace Cup, also said that what irked him was the fact that he learned about his non-inclusion through social media.
“My upset and heartbreak was more towards the fact that I found out the upsetting news via social media and not by a personal contact from someone involved with the team,” he said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
But Dooley said Etheridge should have asked him to clear things out.
“If he has a problem that he is not invited, he should call me. He should call me and ask, 'Coach, why am I not invited?' And I'll take all my time to talk to the player and tell him why he is not invited, and what's happening,” said the coach.
Meanwhile, Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Nonong Araneta said they respect the decision of Cagara and Schröck to leave the team.
Araneta, however, stressed that they are supporting the decision of Dooley and team manager Dan Palami.
“We stand behind the national team management Dan Palami and Thomas Dooley,” Araneta said.