Davao enters Suzuki Cup Q’finals
by rick olivares
After two days of intense competition, host team Davao was the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals of the PFF Suzuki U-23 National Cup.
Although clearly the better side, Davao led by a slim 1-nil match against a desperate North Cotobato side following a 21st minute goal by Jemor Acedo. North Cotobato needed to win to stay in the running for the two slots in the Mindanao Regionals after their draw with Cagayan De Oro the previous day.
Placing high pressure on the North Cotobato with a 433 formation, the visiting team had trouble keeping possession of the ball let alone mounting a proper attack. With former De La Salle Green Booter Enrique Romero-Salas controlling midfield action and Joey Arobo wreaking havoc on the defenders, NC head coach Nicolas Gempelan’s boys turned into a disorganized lot.
At one point, North Cotobato keeper James Alloro dropped a ball that Davao striker Joey Arobo nearly tapped in for a brace. North Cotobato defender Rajifeb Kullano angrily bumped Alloro and the two teammates briefly traded angry words.
“Alam na namin na sira na yung laro nila kasi sa pressure defense namin,” remarked Davao head coach Ramoncito Carreon. “I instructed yung mga bata na tuloy tuloy lang and to take advantage of their mistakes. Na i-force namin sila into errors tapos mag-counter kami.”
True enough, in the 71st minute, Alloro once more failed to control a powerful volley by Al Dinn Tiboron who came in as a second half substitute for Arobo who failed to finish on three separate occasions including one where all he had to do was slot in the ball into an empty net. “Dapat 4-0 na kami after the first half,” said Carreon who was worried that the missed chances would bite his team in the second half. Tiboron was faster to the ball and this time, his aim was true for Davao’s second goal. As the home side celebrated what was now a sure entry into the next stage of the national tournament, an upset Alloro pounded the grass in disgust.
And for good measure and deep into stoppage time, Davao midfielder Jestoni Felipe, another late substitute by Carreon, beat North Cotobato defender Wexford Marasigan on the right flank and drilled a powerful shot at the far post that eluded a diving Alloro.
It was Davao three. North Cotobato nil in full time.
The victorious team from Davao after the match with North Cotobato.
Mark Fernandez Edwin Giganto Jr. Abdulsalam Mamadali Renelle Pino
Al Dinn Tiboron Noel Fred Napuran Enrique Romero-Salas
Jomar Acedo Nur Mentang Joey Arobo
Eric John Araojo Emerlito Alcalde
Frenell Ian Olalo Rigor Pedrosa Ed Meril Walohan Gian Limos
Jason Lagimento Tamon Rodeje Rajifeb Kullano Wexford Marasigan