The world nowadays is quite aware that the Philippines have a number of plucky national sports teams that are just itching for a chance to play on an international stage. Perhaps the most memorable of them are Gilas Pilipinas for basketball and, before that, the men’s national football (aka soccer) team, the celebrated Azkals. While never quite reaching the pinnacle of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, the team has surprised football analysts the world over in several qualifying tournaments. Recently however, the Azkals seem to be having problems keeping a head coach. American Thomas Dooly had his coaching contract expire last March, and was replaced by Terry Butcher from the UK. But that may be no longer the case.
CNN Philippines reports that Terry Butcher, former England team captain and three-time World Cup player before launching a coaching career since the early nineties, has decided that he would not be carrying on with his appointment as head coach of the Philippine men’s football team Azkals. Butcher gave an interview this Friday, August 3, to the UK’s Press Association, to announce his stepping down just two months since he was officially named to the position.
“I’m sorry to announce that I will not be proceeding in the role as head coach of the Philippines national football team,” Butcher remarked. “Regretfully, I’ve not been able to make this work in the way that I intended and I’ve decided not to continue in the role.” He explained that there had been no time to finalize a team management system for the Azkals by which he would have prepared them efficiently for their next major tournament appearance at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
Dan Palami, team manager for the Azkals, issued his own statement expressing how he finds it unfortunate that Butcher had trouble making a start on developing his program for the national team. He also stated that he was excited to work with a tried and tested veteran like Butcher to bring together a formidable Azkals on their first time to compete at the AFC Asian Cup, a berth they got following a qualifying round 2-1 home game victory over Tajikistan last March. Butcher however, did leave some positive parting words for the team he never quite got to know, saying, “I wish all good things for the Azkals and in particular success in their debut in the 2019 Asia Cup.”
For the most part, the roster for the Philippine Azkals still retains several of the players who first launched the team to prominence in this decade. They include heartthrob sibling team Phil and James Younghusband and Azkals captain/goalie Neil Etheridge.
Image courtesy of Sky Sports (UK)