AZKALS’ American mentor Thomas Dooley remains optimistic of the Philippine men’s football team’s chances in the upcoming 2014 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup next month in Vietnam despite the absence of several veteran players.
Dooley said that midfielder Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong and Jason De Jong are not attending the one-week training camp in Doha, Qatar this week and probably would not be able to play in the Suzuki Cup.
“Chieffy is not included in the training camp and most likely in the Suzuki Cup because of health issues, but I’m very optimistic that our young replacements will deliver in every match in Suzuki Cup,” Dooley told The Manila Times on Monday in a phone interview.
“De Jong, for his part, is moving to Europe and he’s no part of the team, but likewise Chieffy, there are many players who fill up the gap they left,” added Dooley, who led the national men’s football team to its first runner up finish in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in May in Maldives.
Caligdong said that he’s not included in the current line-up although his injury has already healed.
“I’m now in Iloilo and I’m applying for a coaching certificate here,” said Caligdong, who was a vital part of the Azkals’ rise to fame four years ago. “Everything is fine with me. If ever they need me, I’m always here to serve the national team.”
Dooley said that it’s not necessary for the Azkals to be composed of entirely young players.
“It’s not necessary. The team will be composed of players who can perform the task and not players who can’t perform.”
The Azkals currently has 21 members led by Patrick Reichelt, striker Mark Hartmann, brothers Simon and Chris Greatwich, brothers Phil and James Younghusband, Daisuke Sato, Manny Ott, Jerry Lucena, Misagh Bahadoran, and Patrick Deyto. They will leave Manila on Tuesday for Doha, Qatar to attend a training camp in preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup. The Azkals will play against Nepal on October 31 and Al Ahli on November 2 in friendly matches. Another goodwill match against Thailand is scheduled on November 10 in Nakhon Ratchasima.