Is Thomas Dooley returning to the Azkals?

This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu’s May 24 edition.

I got an interesting message last night from a former football official who wanted an info confirmed.

“Is Thomas Dooley returning to the Azkals?”

The info wasn’t even second hand and didn’t come because of some sleuthing. He just happened to see a picture of the PFF congress and the former coach was among those in attendance.

I gave him an honest reply, “I have no idea.” Though I promised to check with my usual sources this morning.

TD RETURNS? The PFF announced the departure of Scott Cooper a day after former Azkals coach Thomas Dooley was pictured attending the PFF Congress.

After my usual morning coffee, I contacted my source who’d sometimes like to be identified as someone connected to team management but I didn’t get a reply. I thought, maybe he still sleeping. I had a separate idea for today’s column, something funny about the curious case of the point guard in Toledo who got stabbed by a teammate for being such a ball hog.

Then, the PFF dropped a bombshell.

At around noon, the PFF announced that Scott Cooper was leaving the Azkals, a move which confirms rumors that Cooper would be transferring to a club.

And that begs, who will take over the Azkals as it joins the Asian Cup qualifier early next month?

Will Norman Fegidero, the U23 coach, earn a promotion to the senior squad, which he handled over a decade ago?

Or will Thomas Dooley return, a move that I’m sure will bring a smile to the legion of Azkals fans who have been pining for his return after a string of bad showing by the team?

The lack of alarm or a sense of urgency among the football writers regarding the PFF announcement also tells me two things 1.) the announcement was decided weeks in advance and was factored in the team preparation and 2.) we already have a coach and they’ve been convinced by the PFF to sit on the story until details are sorted out.

I checked with another source, this time someone connected with the publicity wing of the PFF, but as the deadline for this article got closer, I didn’t get a reply.

By the way, I remember something funny. The appointment of Thomas Dooley was the last time I tried to compete with Cedelf Tupas for scoops. I remember at that time, aside from Dooley, there was a former Barca player whose name I’ve forgotten. I think I beat Cedelf to one story, then boom, the rest of the competition was one-sided, so I just decided to focus my football efforts elsewhere.

I know this piece is highly speculative, but I can see how a return by Dooley will be good for a team that has seen quite a few coaches in the past few tournaments. He’d bring stability and of course, not a few fans like his style of play.

And of course, there’s no need to adjust as he is familiar with both the team, the management and the PFF.

Also, I remember what convinced Dan a few years ago to pick the American to lead the team after Michael Weiss.

Dooley told Dan, “I can win with the players in the UFL.” (There was no PFL then.) And win he did, taking us all the way to the Asian Cup.

Of course, I could be totally wrong, which means I owe my sources a couple of rounds the next time they are in Cebu.

Mike T. Limpag
Mike T. Limpag

Mike T. Limpag has covered the Cebu sports scene for over 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old cub reporter for the Freeman in 1997 before moving to SunStar Cebu in 2001.

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