“For me, he (Thomas Dooley) was not honest with me” said Philippines defender Dennis Mengoy Cagara. “And honesty is one of the most important things in my life” added the Filipino-Dane.
These were the words of the Azkal a day after he tweeted that he was not going to play for the Philippines as long as German-born American Thomas Dooley, who led the team to a silver-medal finish in the AFC Challenge Cup, is the coach. The Lyngby FC star admitted this shortly after Stephan Schröck had said the same.
While Schröck declined an invitation to play in the PFF Peace Cup next month in Manila, Cagara was omitted from the list of players invited to training camp.
Cagara expressed his feelings over a telephone interview on Tuesday night. Part of his thoughts were also shared via Facebook chat.
The defender explained that in Maldives during the Challenge Cup, Lyngby FC, locked in a heated promotion battle to get into the Danish top tier, requested he come home to play the last few games of the league season.
“They pay my salary so it was a difficult situation for me” explained Cagara.
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Cagara subsequently left the island nation after playing in the win against Laos in the group stage. That was the only match he played in for the entire competition. He had also been nursing a heel injury.
But before he departed, Cagara spoke with Dooley.
“I told the coach that I hoped my leaving would not affect my future with the Azkals. And he said 'of course not' and that he understood.”
And yet, Cagara was left off the Peace Cup squad, which falls on FIFA's international dates.
“A normal coach would have told me that I was not getting selected” continued Cagara. He also added that the previous Azkal coach, Michael Weiss, always informed him in these situations.
“There was no communication, nothing” said Cagara before the list came out. According to him it was fellow Filipino-Dane Jerry Lucena who told him that he was dropped.
“I'm really sad” said Cagara, 29 and a father of two. “But honesty and respect mean everything to me.”
When told of Cagara's feelings, Dooley, in Vietnam for the AFF Suzuki Cup draw, flatly denied the allegations. The coach responded via text message that “I told the players from the beginning that I will always be honest and I was honest with Dennis too. More to come at the press conference.”
It is believed that the PFF will conduct a press conference either on Wednesday or Thursday on the matter of Schröck and Cagara's recent statements.
Cagara did show a willingness to play for the Philippines again under a new coach.
“It's always an honor and a privilege to play for the Azkals. I really love playing for the Philippines. It's only because of the coach that I don't want to play now.”
Cagara says he spoke to Azkals manager Dan Palami the other day.
“I said I love everything you have done for me, I like you, but as long as Dooley is the coach, I don't want to be a part of the team.”
Cagara also said that he and Schröck are not alone in their opinion of the coach.
“I know that there are other players that feel the same way, who are not comfortable with the coach. I just can't say who.”
He refused to comment on Schröck's case, saying he would let the Filipino-German give his own story.
Dooley played for the United States in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups. In 1994, on home soil, the US MNT reached the second round, where they lost to eventual champs Brazil 1-0.
The central defender who won a Bundesliga title with Kaiserslautern and a UEFA Cup for Schalke 04 is a member of the USA Soccer Hall of Fame. However, his appointment to coach the Azkals is believed to be only his second stint as a head coach at the senior level. He briefly led Karlsruhe in Germany for a season.
Cagara did have one positive to say about the coach though. When asked if he thought Dooley was tactically superior to Weiss, he replied “Yes, I think so.”
Azkals Get Good Draw in 2014 Suzuki Cup
The Philippines have been drawn into Group A with Vietnam (the hosts), Indonesia, and the second- placer in the Qualifying tournament.
Personally I'm delighted with the draw. I am kinda scared of Thailand, I see them as ASEAN's Germany. The War Elephants are in Group B with hosts Singapore, Malaysia, and the qualifying champs.
I suspect Myanmar will be favored to rule the qualifying tournament and play in Group B, which means we will likely face either Laos or Cambodia, which we have both beaten recently in Challenge Cup play. However Timor Leste is also a dark horse.
The Philippines play the qualifier on November 22, Indonesia on the 25th, and Vietnam on the 28th. The home-and-away semifinals are set for December 6 to 11.
Philippine Bolkiah Trophy Team released
The Philippine roster to the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy, a mostly U21 ASEAN competition with a few overage players allowed, has been released.
Check out the entire squad of eighteen here on this picture. Some photos look like mug shots but perhaps that is intended to strike fear in the hearts of our opponents?
The University of the Philippines is the big winner here. Mark Besana, Ian Clarino, Amani Aguinaldo, Daniel Gadia, Patxi Santos, and Ace Villanueva all play for Anto Gonzales' Maroons, although Clarino and Aguinaldo are serving residency and have yet to taste senior UAAP action with the Diliman-based booters.
The players with senior team experience are Curt Dizon, Jason DeJong, Andrew Liauw, Patrick Deyto, OJ Porteria, Kenshiro Daniels, and Aguinaldo.
The cruelest cuts: former UE striker Fitch Arboleda, a very talented kid from Romblon, and Iloilo's Shirmar Felongco, a UST star. It's a pity they won't make the trip.
The team, coached by Aussie Jim Fraser and managed by Australia-based Filipino businessman Jefferson Cheng, starts their campaign against Laos on August 8 in Bandar Seri Begawan.
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH.