Negrenses slip past Davaoeños for title
BACOLOD—Negros Occidental midfielder Charles Barberan managed to convince his coach to give him a starting spot following the last training session before the PFF Smart Under-22 Amateur Football Championship started.
And he certainly didn’t disappoint Negros Occidental coach John Carmona.
The 19-year-old Barberan, a University of St. La Salle standout, capped his tournament-long brilliance with the decisive strike that lifted Negros to a 1-0 victory over Davao in the finals before a big Sunday crowd at Panaad Stadium.
“He was very convincing; he worked really hard each game,” said Carmona of Barberan, who was later named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
“He stepped up and made an impact in the final training session, that’s why he got the start. From there, he proved he deserved to play in every game.”
The left winger seized the opportunity to also play hero in the semifinals, where he fired home the penalty kick that boosted Negros past powerhouse Cavite, 1-0.
And in the biggest of moments against Davao, Barberan rose to the occasion, showing skill and composure to fire home the title-clinching goal in the 74th minute.
Getting on the end of a clever layoff from Ely Usman, Barberan eluded a couple of defenders before leaving Davao goalkeeper Roeder Ignacio stranded on his spot with his cool finish.
“We were erratic in the first half, but the players responded well at halftime,” said Carmona.
“It’s nice to get this win at home because we were able to show people that we can play some good football, which will further boost the enthusiasm of football fans here,” said Negros Occidental Football Association president Ricky Yanson, whose brother, Leorey, owns UFL club Ceres-La Salle FC.
Negros also bagged majority of the individual awards with Angelo Ledesma, who kept three clean sheets in the tournament, claiming the Golden Glove as best goalkeeper, while teammate Jo Warren Bedia was named Best Midfielder. Davao striker Warren Ravanes took the Golden Boot with four goals.
Philippine Football Federation general secretary Ed Gastanes said the PFF is using the tournament to spot new players for the national age-group teams.
“We have scouts here and I think they have identified talents especially from Negros,” said Gastanes.
Earlier, Cavite bagged third place with a 4-0 rout of Misamis Occidental.