By Cheska D. Geli
Saturday, October 22, 2011
IN ORDER to boost its chances in the Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Under-23 team will leave tomorrow for a weeklong training camp in Japan.
The team will stay at Gotemba City where they will hold training sessions at the foot of Mount Fuji. Two of their scheduled tune-up games are against a local 18-Under team and another local club.
In the last three days of training, the team will move to Tokyo to watch the championship game of the J-League, the premier football league in Japan, and to play their final exhibition match.
“I believe that the Japan camp will make us strong,” said Paolo Pascual, who will be the team’s goalie in Japan practice matches.
The team has concluded its training at the Rizal Stadium, where they usually hold conditioning exercises in the morning and scrimmages in the afternoon.
“It was a good and tough training,” said Pascual.
The team had its first exhibition game against the Philippine Air Force where they had a 4-2 win with Jingoy Valmayor’s two goals and David Basa’s successful attempt.
The team had a more convincing win in their second friendly against the Laos FC, 9-1, with Valmayor and Mark Hartman sharing three goals each. Romeo Martinez and OJ Clarino chipped in a goal, while Laos also had an own goal.
But despite the team’s wins, head coach Michael Weiss wasn’t satisfied with the team’s performance.
“The coach said there are a lot of things to work on,” shared Pascual. Among them are improvements in the defensive strategy.
OJ Porteria and Fil-Belgian Jeffrey Christiaens will join the team in Japan along with veterans Jason de Jong and Manny Ott.
First choice goal keeper Roland Mueller and Carle de Murga will follow the team in Indonesia, where the football matches will start on Nov. 3, a week ahead of the opening ceremony.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 23, 2011.