THE Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu did something remarkable on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, after its Boys 16 and Boys 18 teams booked finals seats in the AboitizLand Football Cup with some players seeing action in both semifinal matches just an hour apart.
Since Ateneo doesn’t have a big population like other schools, it had to field some U16 players in the U18 division but the gamble paid off big time. Usually, the age group finals are held on the same day and I don’t think it would do Ateneo well if both Boys 16 and 18 finals will be held back-to-back.
That’s going to be punishing for Ateneo, which will face Abellana National School in the Boys 16 final and Don Bosco Technology Center (DBTC) in the Boys 18 final.
I know joining two divisions always puts a team at risk if a conflict in the schedule arises, something which we always point out in the SunStar Cup when coaches ask if they can field a player in two divisions.
However, I just learned from Chad Songalia that the Boys 16 and Boys 18 finals won’t be played on the same day and that’s a welcome break for the Eagles.
Of the U16 players who also suited up for the U18, I think one of those that really stood out was Christopher Ozawa, who scored in both semifinals. I think the first time I saw him was when Ateneo won the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. title thanks to Leo Maquiling’s last gasp freekick. I was impressed with how shifty Ozawa was at the wing and how well he moved both with and without the ball.
Ateneo really rewrote the script when it beat the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) in the semifinal since it was USJ-R’s first loss all tournament long. Perhaps the days of uncertainty when it was first announced that USJ-R wasn’t going to play affected the Jaguars. Still, Ateneo did what no team has ever done in the Boys 18, beat USJ-R.
Can the Magis Eagles do that again against DBTC? The odds will again be against them this time considering the same B18 team of DBTC ran roughshod over much older teams in the Men’s Division 2 while playing as Erco DB.
Still, it’s a match I look forward to seeing considering Ateneo vs. DBTC is Cebu football’s version of El Clasico.
Who will win this time?
Let’s all watch and find out shall we?