Soccer-Philippines coach to quit national team, coach youngsters

MANILA, Feb 22 (Reuters) - The coach of the struggling Philippines soccer team on Thursday told Reuters he plans to quit his job in an effort to improve the national game.

Jose Caslib said the national team had failed to qualify for any competitive tournaments so his time would be better spent coaching younger players.

“It’s not strange to do this, I have to work with the younger players so we can reach our full potential,” Caslib told Reuters by telephone.

“This will help the Philippines continue to move forward. If I can strengthen the younger players, in two to three years, they can make us a much better team.”

The Philippines currently lag far behind most other South East Asian teams and once endured almost 13 years without a victory.

The country has no professional league and its top players compete only around 20 times a year, mostly against amateur clubs and university teams in the capital Manila.

They were the surprise qualifiers for the recent ASEAN championships, but could only manage a single point after two embarrassing 4-0 defeats and a goalless draw.

Caslib said that by improving the under-23 squad, he was confident future Philippine teams would no longer be the region’s whipping boys.

“We have to work hard with the young players,” said Caslib, whose team chose not to enter the qualifying rounds for either the World Cup or the Olympics.

“With a good programme in place, I think our senior team will be able to compete alongside other countries in Asia.”