He’s back with a vengeance.
Thomas Dooley has returned to manage the Philippines for the second time, just as the Azkals prepare for the crucial qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup in June.
“I am honored to coach our beloved team again. Players will be honored to wear this jersey with pride,” said the former Bundesliga and United States veteran on his Facebook post this Wednesday afternoon. Before rejoining, he had been idle for more than a year after leaving Malaysian side Sri Pahang.
Not just talking about it, showing it ON THE FIELD.Thomas Dooley, 2022
In the Third Round of the qualifiers, the Azkals were put in Group B alongside hosts Mongolia, Palestine, and Yemen, with all three nations have been familiar foes in the past decade.
During his first spell with the national side from 2014 to 2018, the Azkals became a rising force within Southeast Asia, as it produced spectacular results with their attacking play as the squad became one of the most active teams.
With his 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 formation with emphasis on a pair of central defensive midfielders, he won 20 and drew eleven out of 46 matches on his first stint.
He nearly made it into the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia by way of the Challenge Cup in the Maldives in May 2014, only to lose to the Palestinians at the final hurdle. Several months later, he led the Azkals to its third consecutive AFF Championship semifinal by finishing runners-up to Vietnam in Group A, punctuated by a 4-0 rout of Indonesia which ended an 80-year drought.
The best is yet to come for the Azkals in subsequent years despite its group-stage exit on its hosting of the 2016 AFF tilt but made up for it by scoring huge wins against North Korea in 2016 and Tajikistan two years later, the latter of which booked a historic debut in the 2019 Asian Cup.