Azkals Development Team
The Azkals Development Team prior to its friendly match against Army earlier this year. (Photo from Philippine Azkals)

The Philippine Azkals are setting their sights on securing a historic berth in the 2026 World Cup after coach Scott Cooper agreed to an extension.

Cooper and the Philippine Football Federation came to terms with the short-term goal of securing an Asian Cup appearance in 2023 before taking their chances on a World Cup bid.

“I think the team has improved under him and we look forward to him taking the team to another level,” said PFF president Nonong Araneta of Cooper, who has been with the national side for the last two years.

Under the English coach, the Azkals are currently second in Group A of the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers which is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Team manager Dan Palami is confident Cooper can take the Azkals to the next level.

“We trust that coach Scott can take the team into where we want it to be,” said Palami. “It is just unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic stopped our momentum, but we have set what we feel our realistic goals for the team in the future.” 

The 50-year-old has been busy despite the pandemic, including the formation of the Azkals Development Team that is set to compete as a guest club in the planned start of the Philippines Football League season next month.

ADT is a club which features young players that could eventually earn a spot in the senior national team roster.

“When I first came here, I saw the massive potential of the Azkals,” said Cooper “During this pandemic, we’ve been setting goals and putting plans in place to achieve those goals.

“I can honestly say that we can still get better and I am committed to lead this team as it continues to make its mark in Asian and world football,” Cooper added.

Source: Manila Bulletin (