Limpag: Will former Barcelona star land Azkals job?

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Friday, January 24, 2014


IT SEEMS Raddy Avramovich is no longer in the running for the coaching job of the Philippine National Team as Myanmar, which sacked its coach after failing to reach the semifinals of the SEA Games, is keen on hiring the Serbian who steered Singapore to three Suzuki Cups.

It would have been really great for Raddy to take over the coaching job as his experience in the region shows he knows the level of play and knows what it takes for the Philippine national team to win here. Still, even if Raddy's out of the picture, one of the choices for the coaching job, Thomas Dooley also has quite a resume.

National team manager Dan Palami is on the way to the US to interview Dooley, who played for the US in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, earning 81 caps and scoring seven goals.

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He also saw action for Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04, winning the Uefa Cup with the latter in 1997.

Though he doesn't know Asian football as much as Avramovich, his stint with the US national team may help a bit in understanding the current setup of the Azkals, especially the case of our European based players.

According to Wikipedia, in 1992 the US started looking outside its borders for players with American lineage to recruit for its national team--sounds familiar?--as it was preparing to host the 1994 World Cup. They found Dooley in Germany and signed him up immediately.

Having a former World Cup campaigner who's fluent in both German and English also means he won't have any language barrier leading a Philippine team whose players grew up in England, America, Spain, Germany, Netherlands and of course, the Philippines.

And then there's former Barcelona midfielder, Jose Mari Bakero. A source in the PFF says he's also one of the candidates for the coaching job and he's also got quite an impressive resume as a player.

He played for Real Sociedad from 1980 to 1988, and for Barcelona from 1988 to 1997, scoring 72 goals in 260 appearances for the Spanish giants.

Internationally, he saw action for Spain in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and in the 1988 European Championships.

As a coach, he had stints with Real Sociedad and Valencia and Polonia Warsaw and Lech Poznan in Poland.

However, there’s one thing in his coaching resume that’s a bit of a turnoff for the PFF. They all ended with him getting sacked. Ouch.

Whoever our national coach will be will be in for a tough stint. Not only will he have to prepare for a major tournament less five months away, he may also have to do so without home matches as the Rizal Memorial Stadium is far from ready from hosting an international game. The PSC and PFF couldn't agree to terms to its rehab, which Fifa was willing to fund, and the PSC decided to pursue the putting up of an artificial turf on the stadium on its own. We have yet to see the result of that.

The lack of venue meant the national team has to turn down invitations for friendlies, including a potential publicity raising friendlies with the legends of Liverpool and Manchester United.

These circumstances mean that if the new coach survives the first five months in the job, he might just be able to do anything.

Of course, if there's a lesson that can be learned from our former coach, it's this.

If he has to, he has to go. (www.cebufootball.blogspot.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 25, 2014.

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