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Jun 7, 2012

Little Azkals to see action in Japan-East Asean Football Festival


AFTER Kota Kinabalu, the Philippine Under 14 team will be leaving for Osaka, Japan in less than two weeks for the Japan-East Asean Football Exchange Programme U-14 Youth Football Festival slated June 17 to 24.
Team manager Richard Montayre said this is an invitational tournament hosted by the Japan Football Association (JFA) and will be played at the J-Green Sakai in Osaka.
Only six teams will play, including a team from Japan. Aside from Philippines and Japan, also seeing action are Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
The Philippine U14, also known as the Little Azkals, got an invite from the JFA based on its performance in last year’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-14 Festival of Football (FOF) in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia.
In the recently concluded AFC FOF, Montayre said that the team’s performance was decent despite only winning the same number of games as last year.
In 2011, the team had a win-draw-loss record of 3-3-4. This year, they finished with a 3-2-4 slate.
“We expected to win more games. But the quality of their game has become a lot better than last year,” Montayre said.
Assistant coach Eliezer Fabroada said the Little Azkals’ true test will be in Japan because it will be a tournament. The AFC FOF is patterned more as a development for the young players.
Most commendable performances among the Little Azkals in this year’s festival were their goalkeepers Jose Anton Yared and Harrel Rainier Dayan.
“Their performance was a very big factor because our defense committed a lot of lapses but both were able to make a lot of blocks and saves,” said Little Azkals goalkeeping coach Noel Marcaida.
Meanwhile, the team’s  travelling shirts are sponsored by Diadora, Mang Inasal and Philippine Biomass. Their jerseys are covered by Montayre. But the team manager is currently negotiating with a major sponsor for the team.  /CORRESPONDENT MARS G. ALISON

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