The man who first led the Philippines to the Asian football’s biggest stage has been called up to do it all over again.
Thomas Dooley, who last coached the Philippine Azkals in the historic 2-1 win over Tajikistan in 2018 that sealed a place in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, has been rehired to take charge of the team as it is set to compete in the final round of 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers next month.
“I am honored to coach our beloved team again,” said the 1991 Bundesliga champion. “Players will be honored to wear this jersey with pride. Not just talking about it, showing it on the field. We will take the success back to where we left off together four years ago. I know it’s easier said than done.”
“It will be difficult, but we will make it. We will fight, we will play football and we will win again. So let’s start together to help the Philippines Men’s National Team succeed.”
The 61-year-old American was last seen coaching Sri Pahang in the Malaysian Super League — where he was designated as the club’s ‘adviser’ for its under-21 side after just seven matches leading the senior team that led to one win, two draws, and four losses.
However, he always made it a point to remain updated on the latest milestones of Philippine football and one team caught his eye.
“Women set the bar high and we are all proud of what our Filipinas have achieved. First the World Cup qualifier, and now the bronze medal in the SEA games, congratulations. We all stand behind you and support you where we can. We are a big family and we are proud of you,” said the erstwhile FC Schalke 04 defender.
Dooley has a big task at hand considering that the Azkals will travel to Mongolia next month to face Yemen, host nation Mongolia, and Palestine for a spot in next year’s Asian Cup.