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Dooley bares thoughts ahead of challenging week for the Azkals

Thomas Dooley and the Azkals are looking forward to continue their fine form in the current 2018 World Cup/2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers as they welcome tough opponents in Maldives and Uzbekistan

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Thomas Dooley and the Philippines men’s national football team are looking forward to continue their fine form in the current 2018 World Cup/2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers as they welcome two tough opponents in Maldives and Uzbekistan inside five days. Before the friendly against Maldives tomorrow, Dooley addressed a few concerns whilst also expressing optimism for the challenges they are bound to face.

The first thing Dooley remarked when he faced a few members of the press in their Tuesday’s training session at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium was speed. He highlighted speed as essential in playing a high standard of football. “The speed has to be something that we work on,” he stated. Dooley expounded that it is not about pure speed he is referring to, citing fitness and quick decision-making as crucial components too. “When you watch higher ranked teams, they play fast and make fast decisions,” the national team coach, hinting that his players should follow suit to preserve the successful run they have been having so far.

Nonetheless, Dooley is aware that he can only demand so much from his players. More than half of the players come from an exhausting month of Philippine club football while others only began their season and have played not more than 10 matches since mid June. “You cannot say a lot because we haven’t had a lot of training sessions,” Dooley replied to a question regarding his assessment of the 23-man selection. He may not be sure about what to say about his players yet but he certainly wants to see them compete in both matches, with an emphasis on not taking the friendly match for granted. “We should think about Maldives. We have to beat Maldives,” the former US Men’s National Football Team skipper uttered.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Dooley bares thoughts ahead of challenging week for the Azkals News

As to his tactics, Dooley shared that he does not plan deviate from what gave them a good start three months ago. The coach just simply suggested to let more players have taste of the action in the friendly match tomorrow night. More importantly, Dooley reckons that everyone should be prepared for what Maldives has to offer as it offers an excerpt of what comes after. “I expect them to come after us, with them going forward and putting us on the pressure. That’s what Uzbekistan will do against us too, that’s why it’s a great exercise for us to get used to that,” he expounded.

The friendly match is surely branded as a preparation for both the upcoming qualifiers match of both the Philippines and Maldives, but Dooley does not think the team can fully gear up for the Uzbekistan match. A huge factor is the pitch, as the friendly match will be held at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. The qualifiers, meanwhile, will be staged at the Philippine Sports Stadium. The stadium in Manila has an artificial pitch laid out while the one in Bulacan where they will face the highly ranked Uzbeks has natural grass. “Its not what I want but it’s what I am getting,” lamented Dooley who fears that tomorrow’s game may not be the right preparation for September 8.

Worries aside, the Azkals are certainly back in the fold and are raring to go for more wins–this time around against stronger opponents. Tickets for their games tomorrow and on Tuesday are available at Ticketworld booth outlets. –LGT

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