Speaking in Moscow, Butcher, who will lead the Azkals in their first Asian Cup next year, said the World Cup was “our target for the Philippines”.
“The Philippines is in the Asian Cup. Why can’t we look further on? That is what we have to do,” he said in an interview released by the Philippine team.
Butcher, a veteran of three World Cups, has managed clubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Australia. He was speaking as the current World Cup got underway in Russia yesterday (Thursday, June 14).
Butcher praised his predecessor, former USA captain Thomas Dooley, who guided the Philippines to their first ever Asian Cup qualification as well as an all-time high of 115th in the FIFA world rankings.
But he added: “It is okay to be reaching a level but it is horrible and awful to just rest on your laurels at that level.”
Butcher compared it to climbing Mount Everest, saying: “You don’t stop halfway up. You want to go right to the top.”
As we reported on Wednesday, Butcher was named as the new coach of the Azkals – which means ‘street dogs’ – after Dooley’s four-year reign ended last month.
Team manager Dan Palami admitted that there was some concern over the change in leadership after the progress made under Dooley’s leadership.
“It’s natural. People tend to fear change. That holds true every time we make changes with the national team,” he said.
“We don’t need to fear change. We have to embrace it. We need to show everybody that the Philippine Azkals are here to compete and to show Asia that we belong,” he added.
Butcher, aged 59, said he liked the “big challenge,” of working with an emerging team, adding that it had an exciting group of players.
His first major test will be November’s AFF Suzuki Cup, the Southeast Asian championship, before January’s Asian Cup, where the Philippines are grouped with China, South Korea and Kyrgyzstan.
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