AZKALS legend and now Philippine under-14 (U14) national coach Emilio ‘Chieffy’ Caligdong Jr. is impressed by the football talents from Northern Mindanao and officially named seven players from the region who will join the final tryouts for Mindanao players at the PFF Regional training center in Valencia on March 19-20.
"I love to come to Northern Mindanao because I see lots of talented and young footballers,” he said during his visit to the ongoing AbanteMindanao1Futbol 7x7 League at the Westridge Sports Park in barangay Carmen on Sunday.
He also came to conduct a free football clinic to the young survivors of the typhoon Sendong with the president of MocagescoRFA Percy Guarin.
He is also planning to hold another football festival here in May like last year when he brought Pru-Life UK Football Para sa Bayan Football festival.
Caligdong said that the top U14 players from all over Mindanao will go to Valencia for the final tryouts.
“We will select the top 11 players from Mindanao in that 2-day tryouts but we will still welcome players who did not participate in the Festival of Football tryouts."
Seven players were selected from Misamis Oriental Camiguin Ginggoog El Salvador Cagayan de Oro Regional Football Association (MocagescoRFA) tryouts which were held here last month.
Leading the ‘magnificent seven’ is former ‘Little’ Azkals member Greg Naquines.
He plays for the Abba’s Orchard Montessori School and was a member of the U11 Philippine football team which trained for a month in Loughborough, England in 2013. He is also a member of the VAV Football Club.
He is considered as one of the top youth striker in the country today. He has been receiving offers to play for some prestigious schools in Manila already.
Four members of the Higala Football Club also made it to the final tryouts.
They are striker Francis Blaise Carrera of Corpus High School, central defender Mike Chester Tidor of Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGHS), right winger Ralph Noriga of Liceo University, and central defender Kris Lourd Yanes of Regional Science High School.
The other two players are Gregory Philip Tacandong and Miguel Hojas, are from the Holy Cross High School in Camp Philips, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
They will join other players from various regions of Mindanao in the Valencia tryouts.
The Visayas final tryouts will be held after the Holy Week in Iloilo and then Luzon final tryouts is will follow a week later at the Rizal Memorial stadium.
Only a total of 33 players, 11 each from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will make the training pool.
“By the third week of April the 33 players will go for a camp in Iloilo for a month. Then by May they will be cut to 25 and then to 22 before they fly to Laos for AFC U14 regional festival," Caligdong said.
This the first time Caligdong has been appointed as head coach of a National Youth team.
He was an assistant in the National U16 team last year and is currently a playing assistant coach with the United Football League team Green Archers United.
He is getting help from his assistant coaches former Azkal B Nestorio ‘Boogie’ Margase and Michael Castanos.