MANILA (AFP) – American coach Thomas Dooley on Thursday kicked out a European-based mainstay of the Philippines’ national football team and left the future of two other players in doubt following a highly public social media spat.
Midfielder Stephan Schrock and fellow mainstay Dennis Cagara declared on Twitter and Facebook this week they had played their last match under Dooley, amid speculation they were unhappy over a policy perceived to favour younger players.
Schrock got the boot, while the international careers of goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and left-back Cagara are in limbo after Dooley revealed neither was invited to the Azkals’ training camp for an invitational Peace Cup tournament in Manila next month.
Dooley accused them of being “selfish and putting themselves in front of everything”.
“If somebody does this it’s the worst thing that could happen to a team…. Even if the best player does something like this it kind of poisons the team, so we have to go against that,” Dooley told a news conference.
But the German-born coach reserved most of his venom for Schrock.
“You cannot have a player like this in the team. It makes a mess everywhere to me. So it’s clear to me: He’s not playing for me anymore.”
The row began in last May’s AFF Challenge Cup in Maldives, when Dooley said injuries reduced Etheridge and Cagara to bit parts.
The Azkals went all the way to the final, narrowly losing to Palestine after Schrock was substituted at halftime.
After the final, Dooley highlighted the strong performance of younger players throughout the tournament although he insisted there was still a role for veterans.
Dooley said Thursday some senior players did not like it when he began to push younger players, as well as players based in the Philippines, into his starting 11.
“There’s no guarantee for playing in a national team because you’re playing overseas,” Dooley said, while conceding such players remained integral to his team for “as long as we don’t have a strong Filipino league”.
Etheridge, 24, has 37 caps and last played his club football for relegated English premiership club Fulham.
Cagara, 29, capped 13 times, played for Lyngby BK in Denmark, while Schrock, who has three goals in 17 internationals, is attached to the German Bundesliga’s second-tier club Greuther Furth.
They are among a large group of players abroad with at least one Filipino parent who were recruited to improve the fortunes of the Azkals.