Team manager Dan Palami hopes new coach re-energizes Azkals
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 15, 2018 02:14 AM
ďI think everybodyís excited. We look forward to the tandem of Terry and [Senior Football Adviser] Scott [Cooper] doing a lot for Philippine football and the Azkals." - Azkals Team Manager Dan Palami
With new head coach Terry Butcher set to join the Azkals as they begin preparations for the upcoming 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, there are already expectations from the Philippine National Men’s Football Team moving forward.
And from team manager Dan Palami’s side, he expects the former England skipper to re-energize the Pinoy squad as they get ready for what’s set to be a crucial pair of tournaments in the coming months.
“I expect him to bring new energy, his leadership when he was a player and as a coach in his clubs will be infectious and will give the players the high that’s needed, rejuvenate them and get them to prove themselves in the competitions that are about to come.” Palami told ABS-CBN Sports.
The arrival of Butcher signals the end of the Thomas Dooley era for the Azkals.
Dooley, who handled the Philippine National Team from 2014 to 2018, steered the Azkals to their biggest win yet, one over Tajikistan to secure their spot in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in Philippine football history, in his final match with the team.
And while there was nothing but gratitude for what Dooley did with the team during his four year stint, Palami explains that changes needed to be made, even coming off the heels of the team's biggest victory in history.
"Believe you me, when everything seems to be looking up, then you have to prepare for that, because you usually see a lot of downs, but the good thing is, we’re up and down, up and down, but the general trend is going up."
"We wanna make sure that that continues and even bring it up some more, and that’s why sometimes we have to make changes, it’s a catalyst that will make us perform better, I hope, because historically, that’s how it’s been. Everytime we make changes, people criticize it, people get anxious, but at the end of the day, we have shown that our perfomance has gotten better." Palami added.
Later this year, the Azkals will be participating in the Suzuki Cup, and it could be a shot at redemption after having crashed out of the semifinals in the tournament’s previous staging back in 2016.
Barely two months after the Suzuki Cup, the Azkals embark on their most important journey yet, as they kick off their AFC Asian Cup campaign, the highest level they’ve ever been on.
Being grouped with South Korea, China, and Kyrgyzstan in Group C, it’s definitely an uphill battle for the Azkals, given that the country is on the lower tier of the pool in terms of rankings.
Palami says that defying the odds is nothing new to Butcher, who back in 2009 to 2013, took a relegated Inverness club back to the Scottish Premier League.
“Let’s face it, the Philippines is not the most palatable country to coach, but I think with Coach Terry, he has been in similarly-situated conditions, although in club levels. When he was in Inverness, he achieved a great deal with such a small club with such a small budget.”
“It’s kind of inspiring, it parallels the journey of the Azkals, na parang maybe he could do the same, and he’s shown that kind of spirit throughout these years, since that time. I’m looking forward to him sharing that experience and bringing that experience dito sa atin.” Palami added.
With a new coach, a new coaching staff, and new beginnings, this could be the start of something grand for the Azkals.
For Palami and the rest of the squad, it’s nothing but excitement for the coming months.
“I think everybody’s excited. We look forward to the tandem of Terry and [Senior Football Adviser] Scott [Cooper] doing a lot for Philippine football and the Azkals."