NEGROS Occidental Football Association (Nofa) made history after conquering visiting Davao FA, one-nil Sunday in the 2016 Philippine Football Federation (PFF)-Smart U22 Amateur Championships before a crowd of 2,500 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Charles Ivan Barberan, voted tournament Most Valuable Player, fired the lone goal in the 74th minute allowing the home squad to escape from the tough fighting Davaeños.
Barberan came at the right place at the right time to pick up the loose ball off the crossbar miss of Nigerian teammate Usman Ilimona just inside the box and sent it far left off Davao keeper Roeder Stephen Ignacio’s reach.
Davao dominated the home squad in the first 15 minutes of the first half, netting three corners, three indirect kicks, and a pair of goals on target. Nofa’s defense, however, despite initially struggling, held its ground.
Nofa earned several runs in the next possessions, but was unable to maximize their speed and height with their shots going off target, if not going directly to the hands of the goalie.
Both sides ended the first 45 minutes scoreless and Coach John Carmona reminded his team that if they want to win, they have to work harder and play as a team.
“Fortunately, the players responded. We can see how they stepped up,” he said. “We have lots of chances to score more goals but the immaturity of our players caused us several missed shots.”
“But over-all, I’m happy with how the team performed. Moreover, we are proud to give Nofa president Ricky Yanson Jr. his first national championship trophy,” he added.
Yanson was elated with the victory and grateful for the support of the Negrenses.
“I’m happy with the team. We are proud to give the province and the city this victory,” he said.
Lawyer Ed Gastanes, secretary general of PFF, said that it’s unfortunate that the winner of the tournament will not be able to represent the country in the Bolkiah Cup in Brunei.
“But we have several scouting coaches to look at the potentials of our players,” he added.
Gastanes said that last December, the Brunei Federation informed the PFF that they may not be able to hold the regional tournament.
“We still have the AFF U19 this September and some of the players here may qualify for the national team,” he added.
Joining MVP Barberan in the individual awardees are teammates Angelo Ledesma (best goalkeeper) and Jo Warren Bedia (best midfielder), and Davaoeños John de los Santos (best defender) and Warren Ravanes (Golden Boot).