MANILA, Philippines – Azkals coach Thomas Dooley believes that it's time for the Philippine national team to live up to its ranking in Southeast Asia by winning the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.
The Azkals are currently ranked as the top team in the region and Dooley thinks the team should prove it on the pitch.
“In the last two cups we were in the semifinals. We have to win now,” Dooley said on Thursday’s press conference for the Azkals’ campaigns in the coming Philippine Peace Cup and the Suzuki Cup.
“We are the number in Southeast Asia, we are, on paper, the best team and we have to show it. We should be confident when we step into that field and do the job that we should do and let everybody know that we are the best.”
Team manager Dan Palami said the key to winning the cup will be the preparations for the tournament that will be hosted by Singapore and Vietnam in November.
Among their plans is setting up the Azkals' training pool for several tune-up matches in the United States, Canada and Qatar, aside from the coming Philippine Peace Cup this September.
“The plan is really simple, as coach said, and that's to win every game that we play,” said Palami.
“In order for us to do that is to prepare well. I think the preparation that we're planning to have is better than the preparations we had so far,” he added.
Palami also said Dooley and the rest of the coaching staff have already seen what the Azkals can do after competing in the recent AFC Challenge Cup.
“We know the areas we need to improve and we hope to capitalize on that then get to the Suzuki Cup,” he said.
Dooley also said that they can compete well even without Stephan Schrock.
The German-Filipino midfielder has announced that he is quitting the Azkals over the coach's reported preference for younger players.
“It's not a big thing at all," was Dooley's reaction to the player's resignation.
"I mean everybody says he's the best player... We have a lot of players who's better than Stephan."