THE Philippines U19 men’s national football team is taking on South East Asia’s best in the Asean Football Federation U19 men’s championship this July in Surabaya, Indonesia.
The Pinoys are bracketed in Group A along with five other teams. The Philippines begin its campaign against Singapore on July 1. They will face Vietnam on July 3, Indonesia on July 5, Thailand on July 7 and Laos on July 9.
Reiji Hirata from Japan is the head coach, filling in for Nhiboy Pedimonte who suffered an injury in a friendly football tournament and is unable to lead the team. The youth football consultant is assisted by former national team players Roxy Dorlas and Timo Orcullo. The goalkeeper coach is Anton Albao and also helping out the side is Laguna FA’s Kit Salanguit.
The team has been selected from all over the Philippines. UAAP Rookie Of The Year Fidel Tacardon, a Claretian who helped UP win the title this year, will be a handful in attack. Alongside him will be Gio Pabualan from Bukidnon. The FEU juniors standout scored a remarkable 35-yard goal in the UAAP Juniors final as the Tams beat DLS-Z in the final. Pabualan, who will begin his collegiate career next year, is also a gifted free-kick taker.
Another player to watch out for is JR Suba from San Beda high school. The Tarlac native is a prolific goalscorer who helped lead the Lions to the NCAA juniors title over La Salle Greenhills. Suba also won the Golden Boot award in the Palarong Pambansa in Vigan, representing Calabarzon.
There are a pair of Barotacnons flying the flag for the province of Iloilo. Martini Rey, a tall and skilled central midfielder is highly regarded, while Jed Bode was part of the runner-up squad in the UAAP Juniors for DLSZ.
Cebu’s Leo Maquiling, a graduating senior high student from Sacred Heart School-Ateneo could lead the formation at center forward.
Far Eastern University is also supplying three solid defenders, Pete Forrosuelo from Dipolog, Viejay Frigilliano from Ozamiz, and the towering John Paul Bengay from Malaybalay, Bukidnon. (PR)