MANILA, Philippines – For Philippine Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley, foreign-based players such as Stephan Schrock may give the national team a big lift in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, but that is not a reason to take any of the other teams lightly.
"In football, it's always a 50-50 chance," Dooley told the website maldivesoccer.com after the team's arrival. "The team who wins most games, the will win at the end."
"I am very sure that every player will give 100% on the field, so we don't take any game easily," he said.
While the arrival of players like Schrock and first-choice goal-keeper Neil Etheridge has been a boost to the squad, Dooley also pointed out that their training will initially be difficult.
"It is always difficult to train when we are missing a couple of players, and five players didn't train with us. Three players trained with us two days ago," he explained. "It's always better to train with all the players."
"The advantage that we have is that we have trained together more with the Philippine-based players than the foreign-based players," he added. "Like I said, we have five players who are coming in now, and they haven't trained with us."
"They just know that we have to do a PowerPoint presentation and tell them how to play. So that's always difficult."
Some have considered the Azkals as among the potential favorites in the tournament, but Dooley is not interested in the hypotheticals or in the team’s previous results.
"I am satisfied with the other teams in the group. We have to play against somebody, so it doesn't matter if it's Afghanistan or Maldives," he said.
"In the end, we have five games, and we want to play five games, and definitely, to win the last game. So it doesn't matter how we played before. Now, this is the result that counts," he stressed.
The Azkals are grouped with Afghanistan, Laos and Turkmenistan, and will open their campaign against Afghanistan on Tuesday.