YOUNG Cebuano is one step closer to becoming an official Azkal.
Of the 50 who tried out for the national football team, only 13 made the first cut and homegrown athlete Paolo Pascual was one of them.
Pascual established himself well during the first day of the tryouts last Jan. 17 at the University of Makati grounds.
An all-out performance by the 19-year-old star from the University of San Carlos impressed the Azkals’ coaching staff. He received positive feedback from the coaches, who admired his composure during the game.
“He did well. The new coach wants him to be trained as a goal keeper,” said Dan Palami, team manager of the Azkals.
The team manager also confirmed that a goal-keeping coach from Germany will soon arrive to train the keepers.
“It feels great (to be shortlisted) but no expectations yet. It was a tough training but also a lot of fun,” Pascual said.
There will be a series of activities and trainings to test the endurance and overall performance of players during the rest of the tryout session, which ends today.
“If he is consistent, there is a possibility that he will be part of the training pool,” said Palami, adding that Pascual only needs to continue his A-game to keep his chances high.
The three-day tryouts was handled by the Azkals’ new coach Hanz Michael Weiss.
A mix of local and Fil-foreign players from United States, Italy and Germany completed the line-up of hopefuls.
Palami also said the first day of tryouts went well, with Weiss observing the players closely.
“The coach said there was talent but the players need to work on cohesion and conditioning,” he said.
The trials are also part of their preparation for the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia later this year. The Azkals are looking for recruits for the senior team of 25 players and another 25 for the Under-23 team.
Meanwhile, the Azkals are doubling their efforts for their most awaited home-and-away match for the Asian Football Confederation Cup showdown against Mongolia at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod on Feb. 9.
Negotiations for the television broadcast of the Bacolod game is on its final stages with a major broadcasting company.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 19, 2011.