NATIONAL U19 football coach Mari Aberasturi was impressed by the talents of local footballers in Northern Mindanao, even as he recommends more competitive matches for them to improve.
Aberasturi, also the head coach of the National University football program, conducted trials for the national men’s U19 football team at the West Rdige Sports Park in Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro.
Some 61 players from Cagayan de Oro, Lanao del Sur, Bukidnon, Butuan, and Zamboanga showed up for the trials conducted with the help of Mindanao’s top football coach Percy Guarin.
“Certainly Northern Mindanao is a rich source of football talents. I have identified many players who could play for the national team,” he said.
Aberasturi, however, refused to name them yet as he still has to conduct trials in Davao City on Thursday, May 11. He also scheduled trials in Cebu, Bacolod, Luzon and Metro Manila.
The national coach said that for players to improve their skills and competitiveness, they would need at least 40 matches a year.
“That is why I am pushing for local clubs or FA’s (f ootball associations) to organize an eleven-a-side competition for teams from Northern Mindanao to keep players in shape and for them to learn and improve so that they can play professional football in the Philippines Football League (PFL) someday,” he said.
Local FA Mocagesco president Percy Guarin is initially talking to several clubs from Butuan, Iligan, Valencia, Malaybalay and Cagayan de Oro to make this tournament happens.
Aberasturi, an Asian Football Confedaration Class A coach, also said that these players who showed up for the trials are the future of Philippine football.
“Let’s see in less than five years now, some of them will be playing in the PFL already or in the national team. It will only depend on how much hard work will they do to improve themselves,” he added.
Aberasturi has eyed at least five players who can play in the national U19 from the Cagayan de Oro trials but refused to name them.
He will select 35 players from Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Bacolod, Cebu, Luzon, and Metro Manila trials.
The 35 players will then join the training pool which will hold camp before they will be trimmed down to 24 players for the AFF U18 2017 Championship on September 4 to 18 in Myanmar and the AFC U19 Championship 2018 qualifiers set on November 4to 8 in Cambodia.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 11, 2017.