By Jerome S. Galunan Jr.
Aimed at building the best side for the upcoming 2016 Philippine Football Federation-Smart U22 Cup National Championship on January 27-31, host-Negros Occidental Football Association (NOFA) will undergo a series of tune-up matches ahead of the tournament.
Starting this weekend, January 10, the NOFA squad will travel to San Carlos City to take the 2015 State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA) defending champion Central Philippine State University (CPSU)-San Carlos City.
On January 15, the Negrense squad will travel across the Guimaras Strait to meet Central Philippine University-Iloilo City, and Western Institute of Technology (Sta. Barbara) the next day.
The Negrenses will then take University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos on January 21, followed by several practice matches at the Panaad Stadium until January 25.
NOFA will first step on the field on January 27.
It can be recalled that NOFA secured the ticket to the national finals after leading the regional qualifying following their scoreless draw over Cebu, and victories against NORFA (6-1) and Leyte FA (9-0).
In an interview with NOFA mentor John Carmona, he stressed that they still have to address certain issues and make necessary adjustments in the team ahead of the national finals. “We have to ensure that the team is ready for the national finals,” he said.
The NOFA side is led by skipper Nessi Ramos, Joshua Dutosme, Aoki Harunori, Usman Ilimona, Charles Barberan, John Mark Jamelo, Regie Cisneros, Kent Guevarra, Jo Warren Bedia, Paolo Sanchez, Marivic Gancita, Randey Temana, Gerald Paparon, Jasper Layagon, Jordan Junco, Diomar Carusaay, Joevanie Santos, Francis Jada Polvodrido, Angelo Frayle Ledesma, Kyle Bayabos, Von Loyd Baguioro, and Ashley Pamiliar.
Helping out in the coaching side are Dennis Penalosa, Jorwell Gines, Gus Rivas, and Carlo Andrew Demegillo.
NOFA President Ricky Yanson Jr. had said this tournament is an opportunity for the Bacolodnons and Negrenses to show their support to the home team. “I encourage everyone to come and support our team in this tournament. Let’s show everyone how much we love this sport,” he said./WDJ