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Dooley: We Have to Deal with it and Move on

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Coming from a routine 2-0 victory over the Maldives, the Philippine National Men’s Football Team who are popularly known as the Azkals, had five days to prepare for their toughest game yet against Uzbekistan.

Just forty-five seconds into the match, all training sessions done and pre-game instructions given by Azkals coach Thomas Dooley to his men were thrown away after Odil Akhmedov gave Uzbekistan the lead against the home team.

Goals change games. Not more so than one which is scored in the first minute by Uzbekistan which is a team ranked forty-nine places above the Philippines in the FIFA World Rankings. Dooley lamented, “Every single plan I intended to do was stopped at the first minute. Like I said how would you think, your positive mood, your confidence; it’s not that easy just to do things inside and competing in play so it’s a shock to get over and we talk about their players, how difficult and dangerous they are and if you just give them space, they will go into space and take some shots and so that happened.”

It would then be a recurring theme in the match as Uzbekistan was just too dominant for the Azkals to handle with the away side leading 0-3 at halftime and eventually winning 1-5 with Stephan Schrock scoring a consolation goal.

Obviously a lot did not go well in that game for Dooley with a bad start escalating to disaster as the game panned out. “The thing is we started from the first kick, we started the wrong way and after the first goal in the first minute everything we wanted to do was gone. So it was more difficult obviously to gain more confidence” Dooley said.

Dooley said that the coaching staff and the players will have to analyze the game very carefully to understand what went wrong in and to note some positives.

Neil Etheridge had a terrible time in goal during the game. The Walsall goalkeeper picked up the ball five times from his net with the first goal setting the tone of the game. Dooley felt that this particular game is one which Etheridge can learn a lot from. “He faced seven shots tonight and as I said this is a game he can learn for us then maybe have an outstanding game [next time].”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Dooley: We Have to Deal with it and Move on

Dooley made Azkals use the same 3-4-3 formation seen in their past few games and retained the starting eleven which beat Yemen 2-0. Even if the Azkals conceded five goals by the end of the game against Uzbekistan, he believed that there isn’t a pressing need to set the players in a more defensive type of play. “I don’t think we’ll play more defensive minded even after today. We wanted to be tight at the back and do the right thing. Sometimes we see five at back against two but they still give us some problems. That’s something we’ll have to learn and control.”

The difference in class between Uzbekistan and the Azkals showed throughout the game. Dooley admitted that his players did not have the best training sessions coming into the game. The German-American stated his dissatisfaction with the Azkals because they weren’t able to keep possession of the ball properly especially during situations when his players would attack the flanks and lose the ball there. “We have good players who must do better against teams like that. We have to deal with it and move on.”

Furthermore, Dooley felt that the score flattered the Uzbeks and that the Azkals didn’t play as bad it looked on paper but moaned about the lack of finishing from his team. “I don’t think the 5-1 reflects the way we played. I think we had a couple of chances we played probably. But it’s different from saying we had chances to score one goal before the second one so we had chances. At the end of the day, that’s the difference. You don’t get 10 chances against a team like Uzbekistan, you get only like 2 or 3 then you have to meet them.”

All is not lost for the Azkals and their dream of at least qualifying as one of the best four second placers in this qualifying round with five more fixtures to play.

The next 2018 World Cup qualifying game of the Azkals is against North Korea in Pyongyang on October 8, 2015.

Dooley is still optimistic about the Azkals’ chances having stated that fellow teams in the group can drop points to one another and that a potential North Korea away win over Uzbekistan will do wonders be good for his team. Dooley emphasized that the target is to at least finish second and hope results from other qualifying groups allow the Azkals to finish as one of the best four second placers. He then stated that the Azkals must improve against North Korea in their next game. “To achieve our goal to reach the next round which we can still do after today, we need to show our class against North Korea which has absolutely kind of won our group.”

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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