KENYA BROWN - Thursday, August 7, 2014
It looks like the honeymoon is over for Philippines national team head coach Thomas Dooley.
A pair of foreign-based members of the Philippines national team have come out to say they will no longer play for the side as long as the German-American is in charge.
Now, the former United States national team player has fired back by kicking out one player while two others are left in limbo about their national team futures.
The controversy started when midfielder Stephan Schrock and defender Dennis Cagara went on social media this week to say that they have played their last game for the Azkals. It has been reported that the two are not happy about their reduced roles in the team.
"As long as coach Dooley will lead the team I won't wear the jersey of Azkals again," the German-born Schrock wrote in an open letter on his Facebook pages. "I hope I will give my comeback one day!!"
Cagara, who was born in Denmark, also said he would not play for the Philippines as long as Dooley has the reigns.
"Dooley is also the reason why I won't play for the Azkals for the moment," he said.
Dooley, who was hired as coach by the Philippine Football Federation in February this year, has turned the fortunes of the national team around as they narrowly missed out on a place in next year's AFC Asian Cup in Australia, losing 1-0 to Palestine in the final of the AFC Challenge Cup.
There was no reaction from Dooley or officials from the federation as they were in Vietnam on Tuesday for the draw for the Suzuki Cup which starts in November, however, federation general secretary Edwin Gastanes told the Agence France-Presse that they were looking into the matter.
Meanwhile, Philippine team manager Dan Palami on Wednesday said in a statement that it was unfortunate that both players made the decision to quit the team.
"It is natural even amongst family for differences to arise, especially when changes are introduced. At the end of the day, however, it is good to be reminded that every single one on the Azkals family actually shares the same common dream: To unite Filipinos through their love for the beautiful game and to bring Philippine football to the world stage," said Palami.
He added that he was optimistic that all the parties involved will reach a resolution that will be most beneficial to the team and that will bring them even closer to their common goals.
At a Thursday press conference, Dooley made his first comments about the situation, reserving his harshest criticism for Schrock.
"He is going all over the world and then hammering us over here on what kind of a chicken farm we are and he is not playing for me anymore because I don't like foreigners, [that] I don't want those players playing for the team," said Dooley, adding that Schrock was "unprofessional" and a "liar."
"You cannot have a player like this in the team. It makes a mess everywhere to me. So it's clear to me: He's not playing for me anymore," he said.
While Schrock's international career has been virtually ended by Dooley, the careers of Cagara and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge hang in the balance as the coach has not invited either player to training for next month's Peace Cup invitational tournament in Manila.
The coach blasted allegations that he favors younger and locally-based players over those who are abroad, saying that the younger players need to be developed. However, he did admit that without international players the team could not survive.
"There's no guarantee in playing for the national team because you are playing overseas," said Dooley. "It is not about what you did five years ago for the team. It's what you do now."
As for the Philippine Football Federation, president Mariano Araneta said while they respect the players' decisions to resign from the team, they totally support Dooley and his handling of the team.
"We stand behind Coach Tom Dooley and Dan Palami on their decision," Araneta said.