MANILA – The Philippines’ football team has been rocked by a player revolt with two Azkals senior players refusing to suit up for American head coach Thomas Dooley.
Midfielder Stephan Schrock and fellow mainstay Dennis Cagara declared on social media this week they had played their last match under Dooley, amid speculation they were unhappy over a policy perceived to favor younger players.
“As long as coach Dooley will lead the team I won’t wear the jersey of Azkals again,” Schrock, 27, told fans on his Twitter and Facebook pages.
“I hope I will give my comeback one day!!” said German-born Schrock, who has a Filipina mother and scored three goals in 17 senior caps.
He plays club football with Greuther Furth in the Bundesliga second division.
Left-back Cagara, who was born and plays in Denmark, also tweeted that he would not suit up for the Azkals under its current manager.
“Dooley is also the reason why I won’t play for the Azkals for the moment,” added the 29-year-old Lyngby BK defender, who has 13 national caps.
The Philippine Football Federation said management was still to fully address the issue, as the players had only made their statements on social media.
“This is best resolved by the team management. It is looking into this,” federation general secretary Edwin Gastanes told AFP from Hanoi.
Dooley and Gastanes had attended Tuesday’s draw in Vietnam for Southeast Asia’s Suzuki Cup, which kicks off on November 22.
Neither Dooley, Schrock nor Cagara could be reached for comment by AFP on Wednesday, but local press reports said the veterans had both complained about their reduced roles in the side.
Ex-US international Dooley was named Azkals head coach in February and led the former Southeast Asian minnows to a runners-up finish in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in May.
The Azkals’ 0-1 defeat in the final to Palestine, which featured many younger Filipino players, meant they just missed out on qualifying for their first ever Asian Cup.
Schrock was substituted at half time in the final, while Cagara had played in two of the group games.
After the final, Dooley highlighted the strong performance of younger players throughout the tournament although he insisted there was still a role for veterans.
“It doesn’t mean we want to kick the old players out, but maybe the pace of the game will be better and it is good to have… young players who can develop,” Dooley told the Challenge Cup’s website.