Limpag: Dooley: keep it simple and beautiful

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I FINALLY met Coach Thomas Dooley when the amiable coach, Dan Palami and Jaron Genota met me and fellow columnist Noel Villaflor for a late night chat last Sunday.

While discussing his philosophy and approach to the game, I got to ask a coach that I think most fans want to ask; the Philippines played so beautifully in those two games against Malaysia and Azerbaijan, what did coach Dooley do in those training sessions he had with the team that transformed the squad?

His answer reminded me of a high school journalism teacher’s advice: KISS, keep it short and simple or keep it simple, stupid. It’s also something budding players should keep in mind.

In one of the early training sessions, he said he interrupted a session when one winger made a chest-high pass to another player inside the box.

“Why pass it high?” Coach Dooley asked the player. “He has to control it and bring it to his feet. wouldn’t it be easier if you keep it on the ground and pass it to his feet?”

It’s just like saying, “Why use four words when you can use one?”

And if you have a coach who played in two World Cups, won a Uefa Cup title and played in the top flight for years, that’s a suggestion you simply don’t ignore.

That, in a nutshell explains the exemplary play of the Azkals recently, as the coach believes in developing plays from the backline, being a defender himself.

A veteran like him knows mistake happen, considering that the US team was gifted by Carlos Escobar’s costly mistake in the 1994 World Cup, and he tells his players that they can make mistake (though I hope, not of the own goal type).

If you noticed how Azerbaijan played, with their players always glancing around to check where their teammates are, that’s what the coach wants the players to do.

Before he even receives the ball, he has to know where his teammates are.

Simple and basic moves most players and coaches here overlook.

I also pointed out that while we played beautifully in the first two games, we haven’t scored a goal and he said it is something that also bugs him. Noel asked him if he was a Bayern Munich fan and he said he doesn’t really follow a team but studies what coaches do and what he could try for us offensively to address the scoring issue.

“Of course, it would help if you can have a player who gets two chances and scores thrice,” he said, “Do we have that?”
(www.cebufootball.blogspot.com)

As for the UFL, the coach acknowledges the quality of the players in the league is not at par with other domestic leagues but he watches the games to check which players have the technical skills who could then be given be a chance for the national team.

“The national team is where you know if a player he’s good enough internationally,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 10, 2014.

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