MANILA, Philippines—Former U.S. captain Thomas Dooley was hired as head coach of the Philippines national team on Friday.
Philippine Football Federation President Mariano Araneta announced that Dooley will start immediately preparing the team for the Challenge Cup in May in the Maldives.
The 52-year-old Dooley was selected ahead of four unnamed European candidates on the shortlist.
Dooley spent much of his playing career in Germany before stints with Columbus and the New York MetroStars in Major League Soccer.
He made 81 appearances for the U.S. national team, appearing at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.
It will be Dooley’s first time to coach a national team and he said he is “very honoured, humbled and very excited to take this task.”
He said the first objective for the team was to win the Challenge Cup and thereby qualify for the Asian Cup.
“Forget about the World Cup,” Dooley said. “We need to play the World Cup … but we are so far away from that that if they don’t win the Challenge Cup we can’t play in the next 25 years for that. But if we can win the Challenge Cup, we have another goal then.”
Soccer may lag behind basketball as the Philippines’ most popular sport, but Dooley said “not everybody can play overseas basketball in the professional league but in soccer you can.”
“I love to play soccer, so that’s what I want to do—I want to play soccer. That means not just kicking the ball. I want to get everybody involved in playing,” he said.