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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Limpag: June 14 and the Azkals

JUNE 14 is the opening of the World Cup but for football fans in the Philippines it is also the day that we will finally learn if will have a new manager of the men’s national team or if Thomas Dooley still has the trust and confidence of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).

With the way things are going, you can’t blame anyone who suspects that Dooley, who has taken the Azkals to a level where we’ve never been, will be sacked. His contract expired last March and if the PFF was contented with his style, he would have gotten a renewal on March 28, before he had his first cup of coffee.

I mean, who can forget March 27? Certainly I couldn’t. It was a special night and the moments readily flash back--Ingreso conceding a penalty in the 64th and making amends with a header 10 minutes later; Phil hitting No. 50 in the 88th from the penalty; thousands of fans screaming and dancing in the dying minutes; Carly going down and Neil getting emotional in the post-game interview as he recalled the ups and downs of his 10-year stint with the national team. These are just some of my favorites from that epic night, one that changed Philippine football.

I expected an announcement about Dooley’s new contract would follow the next day, considering that we will have two major tournaments to prepare for in less 10 months, the AFF Suzuki Cup in November and our Asian Cup debut in January. But instead of a new contract, we would hear of a two-month search with even a former Azkal based in Europe among those considered.

I’d love to see Rob Gier handle the senior team someday, but it’s quite a big burden on him if his first managerial job is the senior team in the Suzuki Cup and the Asian Cup.

And if it’s still Thomas Dooley, as some suspect it will be, what was the two-month delay about? To show that the PFF isn’t happy with how he is handling the team or the players? Say, the Stephen Schrock question, for example? Schrocky isn’t past his prime and in Asia’s biggest stage, we’d need our best player.

Des Bulpin, Simon McMenemy, Michael Weiss and Thomas Dooley. Are we going to add another name to that mix next week? I guess, we are going to know one of the biggest news in Philippine football hours before the sport’s biggest tournament kicks off.


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