Firing a 15-yarder right straight into the goal in the 74 th minute, Charles Ivan Barberan scored the lone marker that allowed host Negros Occidental Football Association to beat Davao FA and capture the inaugural title of the PFF Smart U22 Championship at the Panaad Stadium yesterday.
A winger, Barberan found himself in the right place at the right time as he caught the cross from striker Ilimona Usman and was a heartbeat ahead of Davao's defense to make the goal.
It was a battle of grit and perseverance, of mental toughness and determination as both teams came out strong and aggressive all throughout the match.
Davao matched NOFA's height and speed and with their short passes had NOFA buckling down in defense in the first half of the match.
NOFA head coach John Carmona said the Davaoeños were very stable and were not erratic in their passes. The team they encountered was not only strong but was fast and dangerous.
“They were able to read our direct passes in the first half but we were able to stabilize our offense in the second half,” coach Carmona said, adding that he kept on reminding the players that if they want to win the championship then they have to work very hard for it.
“Everybody wants this win. The players felt pressured to be playing the championship before the homecrowd but I told them that the pressure is on Davao,” Carmona added.
Davao's head coach Ramonito Carreon's credited NOFA players' mature approach of the championship.
While he was satisfied with the performance of his team, Carreon said they have a very young lineup and they simply fell short in the second half.
Meanwhile, Arellano University- Cavite FA settled for second runner-up honors after a 4-0 win against Misamis Occ.- Ozamiz FA yesterday morning.
Among those who witnessed the championship were NOFA president Ricky Yanson, PFF officials led by PFF General Secretary Ed Gastanes, along with Mayor Monico Puentevella of Bacolod City, San Carlos City Mayor Gerardo Valmayor Jr., and Executive Assistant to the Governor Angel Verdeflor.*NAB