PH booters open vs Cambodia
National Under-22 team standout Jarvey Gayoso feels an improved buildup and quality reinforcements can boost the Young Azkals as they aim to end their long wait for a semifinal appearance in the Southeast Asian Games football tournament kicking off on Monday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
A member of the team that failed to get past the group stage in Malaysia two years ago, the former UAAP Most Valuable Player from Ateneo believes the current side has a solid mix of youth and experience as it kicks off its campaign against Cambodia at 8 p.m. on Monday.
“I’m pretty confident about our team,” said Gayoso, who noted the importance being placed on the team even before the start of their campaign.
“It’s a redesigned and rejuvenated team. We started three months ago and we’re finally complete. There’s positive energy and a positive mind-set that we will hopefully bring into the games.”
The Young Azkals have a leader in senior team skipper Stephan Schrock and an experienced defender in Amani Aguinaldo, who is the other overaged player allowed in the squad. In Filipino-Dutch standout Justin Baas, the squad of Serbian coach Goran Milojevic also has a talented defender who can dictate play from the back.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure on us,” said Baas. “We have the quality. We will definitely do our best first to reach the semifinals.”
Also in Group A are 2017 SEA Games silver medalist Malaysia and Myanmar, which will square off in the first match on Monday. Timor Leste completes the teams in the group.
Six players in the 20-man roster are part of the senior team, which Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta said augurs well for the team’s campaign.
“We have young players who are product of the grassroots programs of their respective provinces as well as foreign-based players with experience so there is a good balance to our team,” said Araneta.”