After considering that they are the lone team from Visayas and the host of the event, Negros Occidental Football Association team Head Coach John Carmona said that they are challenged to win the PFF-Smart U22 Amateur Championship on Jan. 26-31 at the Panaad Stadium inMansilingan, Bacolod City.
“This is the national finals already and the players really worked hard for this,” Carmona said in a press conference on Saturday.
The NOFA team is the lone Visayas team that will advance to the quarterfinals of the game, after beating the Cebu team in the regional elimination.
Dennis Estaniel of the local organizing committee said that there are five football associations in Visayas but only two joined the regionals.
“PFF considered the number of FAs and the geographic location of the regions,” Estaniel said, adding that “Visayas is the hotbed of football in the country, that's why only one team entered the final eight teams for the national finals.”
Together with NOFA, three teams from Luzon and four from Mindanao will play in single elimination quarterfinals that will start Wednesday.
The team from Luzon are Baguio-Benguet, Camarines and Cavite FA, while from Mindanao are Davao, Bukidnon, Misamis and North Cotabato FAs.
Carmona also added that they have included four foreign players in the team coming from Japan, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon.
“The tournament is for amateur football players and to make it more competitive, the PFF allowed at least five foreigners in the lineup per team,” he said.
The NOFA coach added that they have to take advantage on this that is s why they have looked for connections to scout the best foreign players available.
Two of these foreign players are currently studying in University of St. La Salle, while the other two is willing to study here in the province in pursuit of playing for the team.
The team recently had their match with the current UFL champion, Ceres-La Salle team on Jan. 21 and a practice match against University of Negros Occidental- Recoletos team last Saturday.
The Luzon and Mindanao teams will be arriving tomorrow, following a manager's meeting tomorrow where teams will have draw lots of their opponents for the quarterfinals.*Mark Garcia
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