Philippine National Football Team head coach Thomas Dooley is hoping that the Azkals will be in better shape when the group stage of the Suzuki Cup unfolds next week.
After receiving a boost in the pre-campaign preparations following their 1-0 win over the higher-ranked Kyrgyzstan, the American is positive of making a few adjustments to fine-tune their game.
“I hope that we can even get another 20 or 30 percent more. Obviously, we talked about commitment for 90 minutes and for 90 minutes everybody should give whatever he has,” he said in an interview.
He believes that the Azkals are ready for their games in the Southeast Asian Championship but reiterated that they will still work harder in the coming days.
“We have another 20 percent to work on but with a victory in that kind of a game [against Kyrgyzstan], I think that we would be ready for the Suzuki Cup,” he stated.
Dooley claimed that the outcome of their recent outing did not come as a surprise as the team was more equipped to battle than their games in October.
“The performance of the players did not surprise me. As I said before, the team chemistry and the spirit of the team was 80 percent better than it was before,” he held.
He stressed that the losses to North Korea and Bahrain was part of their learning process of trying out new things that might help the team down the line
“We tried to do something in those games but it did not work out. If we do not take risks, we go back to being safe. It was a great eye-opener fitness wise and everything.”
Dooley revealed that they would be holding a couple of training sessions that will be focused on tactical training and set pieces on the week before the competition.
“We have another two or three sessions left before the start of the tournament. On the training sessions that we will do, we will work on a little bit of set pieces.”
He also noted that their final preparations for the tourney would include studying the scouting reports of their scheduled opponents to further prepare his game plan.
“In general, we need to play our game. We need to have respect with opponent and we need to acknowledge what they did in the last couple of games and months,” he concluded.
The Philippines will be hosting the Group A of the biennial regional football meet at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan starting on November 19.
The Azkals will be facing Singapore on opening day before playing Indonesia on November 22 and titleholder Thailand in the preliminary round closing match on November 25.
JAELLE NEVIN REYES