MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Former U.S. captain Thomas Dooley was hired Friday as head coach of the Philippines national soccer team.
Philippine Football Federation President Mariano Araneta announced Dooley will immediately start preparing the team for the Asia Challenge Cup in May in the Maldives.
The 52-year-old Dooley was selected ahead of four unidentified European candidates on the shortlist. He scored seven goals in 81 appearances for the U.S. national team, appearing at the 1994 World Cup and captaining the team at the 1998 tournament.
The German-born Dooley, a resident of Laguna Niguel, Calif., coached the German club Saarbrucken from 2002-03. He said he is ''very honored, humbled and very excited to take this task.''
Dooley said the first objective for the team was to win the Challenge Cup and 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.''
Dooley spent much of his playing career in Germany with Homburg (1983-88), Kaiserslautern (1988-93), Bayer Leverkusen (1994-95) and Schalke (1995-97) before stints with Columbus (1997-00) and the New York MetroStars (2000) in Major League Soccer.
Dooley follows other Americans who have coached national teams outside the U.S., including Steve Sampson (Costa Rica from 2002-04), Bob Bradley (Egypt from 2011-13) and Thomas Rongen (American Samoa in 2011). Other Americans currently in charge of national teams are Ian Mork (Belize) and Jack Stefanowski (Nepal).
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.