MANILA-- Their recent triumph in the prestigious 23rd Kanga Cup in Canberra, Australia bodes well for the campaign of the Teen Azkals, the National Under-19 squad, in two major international football competitions in the coming months.
"The experience was good for us since we were able to play against taller and bigger players,” said assistant coach Noel Marcaida in Tuesday’s PSA forum at Shakey’s Malate four days after the Teen Azkals completed a six-game sweep of the Under-18 tournament.
Competing under the banner of Carranz FC, the Filipino booters opened their campaign by beating Capital Senior FTC, 1-0, through Valentino Calvo’s marker; rallied past Gosford FC, 5-2, from a 0-2 deficit; blanked Taylors Lakes, 2-0; and topped Woden Valley, 2-0, in the eliminations.
Managed by businessman Alvin Carranza, who was with the team throughout the weeklong event, the Teen Azkals whipped defending champion John Paul College, 6-0, in the semifinals, before nipping Capital Senior FTC, 1-0, in the finals with Calvo providing the winning marker once again.
“This was a great experience for me since I had only week’s practice with the team before the event,” said Calvo, an 18-year-old find from Cebu, who joined Marcaida in the session sponsored by Shakey’s and the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. p>Aside from Calvo, who will be suiting up for the College of St. Benilde side in the NCAA, the other Teen Azkals who saw action in Australia are Paeng de Guzman, Amani Aguinaldo, Ian Clarino, Mark Besana, Junnel Bautista, Va Rey Diaz, Arnel Amita, Skie Carranza, Daniel Gadia, Dielo Diamante, Yoshi Koisumi, Nick Bollier, Enzo Cheng and Kevin Hartmann.
Marcaida said the Australian stint showed “that we still need a lot of work to do on our tactics and team chemistry” in their build-up for the Asean Football Federation Under-19 Championship from Sept. 21-28 in Surabaya, Indonesia.
The Teen Azkals are bracketed in Group A together with Laos, Singapore, Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Australia, which will be competing in the event for the first time.
They will also see action in the Asia Under-19 qualifiers also in Indonesia shortly after the AFF tourney where they are grouped with South Korea, Laos, Guam and the host country.
Marcaida said the major problem the coaching staff led by veteran mentor Marlon Maro are now facing was for the release of their players from their respective schools “since most of them are from UAAP squads.
”So most of the time we have them in the evening for practice after they’re through with their respective clubs.”*PNA
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