MANILA -- Thomas Dooley said he respects the Philippine Football Federation’s (PFF) move to bring in former England skipper Terry Butcher as the new head coach of the Azkals.

"I have no hard feelings about the decision the PFF made. I don’t understand but I respect the decision," the former American captain and erstwhile Azkals mentor said in a statement on Facebook late Friday night.

Dooley's contract with the Azkals expired on March 31, but the PFF did not immediately renew the deal, leading to early speculations that the team could be going for a shift in direction ahead of this year's AFF Suzuki Cup and next year's AFC Asian Cup.

PFF president Nonong Araneta then confirmed that the National Sports Association indeed reached out to another coach for the job, who turned out to be Butcher.

Dooley, however, took the time to thank his supporters.

"Thank you for the great four years I had worked for you, getting to know you and your beautiful country. I cannot explain with words how much I love and respect your country," Dooley said. "Thank you very much for your support and we ALL wish only the best for Philippine football and of course our amazing Azkals team."

Expressing optimism for the Azkals program, he said, "When the football community realizes that the Philippines have the genes of the Hispanics (Spain, Brazil, Argentina, etc.), their football future could be an Asian powerhouse. Maybe one day, with the right program, it will happen. Anything is possible!” (PNA)