By JONAS TERRADO
Newly-appointed coach Terry Butcher is keen implementing a different philosophy as he begins the arduous task of bringing the Philippine Azkals to new heights beginning with their historic participation in next year’s Asian Cup.
Butcher, who made three World Cup appearances for England, was hired to replace long-time coach Thomas Dooley with a mission of making the Azkals even more competitive after securing qualification to the Asian Cup for the first time ever.
“I like projects, I like challenges and I see this as a big challenge,” Butcher said in a pre-recorded interview shown during the Azkals media launch at the Solaire Hotel & Casino late Thursday.
“There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but it’ll be a fun work, it would be exciting work. And I think with the group of players the Philippines has at its disposal, it could be exciting times ahead with the Suzuki Cup coming up and the Asian Cup coming up,” added Butcher, who was in Moscow for the FIFA World Cup.
While Butcher plans to make things a bit different on a tactical end, he also wants to make sure his players have a sense of satisfaction representing the national team.
“Obviously we want to win games, but we wanna win games with a bit of style, a bit of finesse and a bit of skill,” he said. “We want to see the players with a smile on their faces, enjoying their jobs.
“What I try to do with all my teams is to make them not just a hard team to beat but also go out and really show what ability and class they got. I want to be free-flowing, expansive football, but obviously with a defensive spine set up in the back that we don’t concede goals,” he added.
The 59-year-old Butcher will get some help from Irishman Scott Cooper, who was tapped to become the team’s senior adviser – a role set up by Azkals team manager Dan Palami.
Cooper’s experience in Southeast Asia will allow Butcher to get a grasp of how things are played out in this part of the world. Cooper has spent the last five years coaching clubs in Thailand and Indonesia, famously leading Buriram United to a Thai domestic treble in 2013.
“I was looking for something different, really,” Cooper, 47, said. “I’ve been to club football for five years and I want to apply some of the knowledge elsewhere. I was intrigued by the role and I felt that it was something different and a challenge for me.”
Palami said the Azkals will hold a camp in Bahrain in September before plunging into action in November for the Suzuki Cup, a tournament the national squad hopes to contend for the crown.
The Azkals are also slated to train in Qatar after the Suzuki Cup before heading to the United Arab Emirates for the Asian Cup.