Azkals chasing World Cup dream

Wonder save helps Australia beat Jordan in World Cup qualifier

The Southeast Asian nation has never taken part in football's biggest tournament, in fact they have not even made it to the Asian Cup, the continent's premier event, but this does not stop the Azkals from continually striving to make history.

The Philippines began their qualifying campaign strongly with wins over Bahrain and Yemen earlier in June, and while stiffer tests against Uzbekistan and North Korea await in September, Dooley is happy with where the team currently stands.

“We had a great start, but there is no room to play with overconfidence," Dooley told the Gulf News. “It’s just the beginning and six more games remain.

“Eighteen points are still out there and we need to collect as many as we can. I said from the beginning that this is the toughest group to be in.”

Philippines need to top Group H or rank as one of the four best runners-up if they are to make the third qualifying round, and he German-born Dooley, who represented the United States at the 1994 World Cup, believes that progression to the next round will would have a huge positive impact on football in the country.

"We could promote and market football in The Philippines much better and let the kids know that through football there’s a better future," he said. "Media presence will increase resulting in more sponsors and more fans and young players, and it would bring the ultimate goal of one day qualifying to a World Cup much closer.”

Dooley believes that the Azkals are making good progress, and that they will continue to grow now that the right structures are in place.

“The little details are kicking in big time,” he explained. “When I came in 18 months ago I told the players two things: I want you to play football, not chase the ball. And we need to build a team. You don’t need the best players to be successful, the best team wins championships.

“In the last two games we could see that we are getting close to what I have in mind. But we can’t stop there. We need to continue moving forward, playing faster, making the right decisions quicker, and being evermore hungry for success.”