Azkals Development Team coach Scott Cooper said he hasn’t lost sight of the bigger picture even after his side absorbed back-to-back setbacks in the Philippines Football League at the PFF national training center in Carmona town, Cavite.
ADT tangles with Mendiola FC, which took a 6-0 beating from United City last weekend, in the battle of winless squads at 9 a.m., when league play resumes on Tuesday.
Unbeaten clubs Kaya-Iloilo and United City battle Stallion Laguna and Maharlika at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, in the other matches.
“Our team is a developmental team not a team to be developed,” Cooper said following his squad’s 1-0 loss to Kaya-Iloilo FC last Saturday three days after they took a similar 1-0 beating from United City FC at the start of the tournament.
“We are developing players within the team. The results really do not mean anything within the team,” he added. “You want to teach players how to win games but it is all about development."
Cooper added that it was “quite silly” to surround his squad with too much hype considering the youth of his players.
“If you look at the age of Carlo (Dorin) and Lance (Ocampo) they are just 18 and just turned 20, respectively. It’s a little silly. It’s part of the hype of the game.”
The British coach, however, was serious in his role and the rest of coaching staff to nurture the players under their wing to step up to the next level, including becoming members of the senior Azkals side, and good enough to be recruited by leading commercial clubs both locally and overseas.
“I look at these players to step to bigger clubs and to bigger leagues,” he said of his aspirations for his gems in the rough, adding that “our job is to develop Azkals down the road.”
Cooper bared that he was starting to see promising signs among the players in the present crop.
He mentioned defender Mar Diano, who, despite suffering a defensive lapse last Saturday that led to Kaya-Iloilo striker Kenshiro Daniels’ winning goal, is someone who was moving along well in his development.
Diano is one of Cooper’s “projects,” converting the former 22-year-old UE striker into one of his reliable men in the back row.
“I would say Diano is showing signs that he is ready to move on. He wins his headers and positions himself well,” Cooper said. “The others need at least six months to year to develop more.”
He also cited another converted forward, ex-UAAP MVP Jarvey Gayoso, who has shown significant improvement as a left back.
“Gayoso is getting used to that left side. What he wants and what is best from him are two different things,” Cooper pointed out, adding that midfielder Christian Rontini, who was born in Italy, “shows some presence there.”
The Azkals coach was also pleased by the development of goalkeeper Quincy Kammeraad, 19, who has been forced to fill in the big shoes of first-choice goalie Anthony Pinthus, who was loaned to United City FC and appears to have found a home there.
“Our original goalie was Anthony Pinthus but we loaned him to United because we felt like that he was in a position to step up and never should come back,” he acknowledged. “Quincy has stepped in from No. 2 to No. 1.
“He is young. His (ball) distribution at times is inaccurate but he has great distance in his kick. He’s strong. As a goalkeeper I think he still has another 15 to 17 months to develop. It’s not too far off. He has a great future.”