MANILA, Philippines – Team Philippines sets out for a semifinal mission as it vies in the Asean Football Federation Under-19 Championship slatedAug. 22-Sept. 5 in Vientiane, Laos.
Coach Dan Padernal said the Pinoy booters can benefit from a favorable draw in Group A, which saw themmatch up against Brunei (Aug. 22), Thailand (Aug. 26), Cambodia (Aug. 27), and Laos (Aug. 30).
“The team is in high spirits,” said Padernal, who described the squad as the “strongest team” he’s ever handled. “And I can see a semifinal stint, especially if we can take care of business in our first and third games (against Brunei and Cambodia).”
The withdrawal of the Australian U-19 from the meet should also serve Phl well, added Philippine Football Federation general secretary Edwin Gastanes.
“It’s a fortunate event that Australia withdrew. If the team survives the group stage, then together with Thailand, they’ll be in the semifinals,” he said
The Phl side is composed of graduates from the U-14, U-16 and U-17 age groups. The boys trained for the past five weeks, toughening up in tune-ups with collegiate teams San Beda, St. Benilde, UST, DLSU and NU and UFL club Global FC.
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The U-19 booters will later see action in the qualifying tournament for the 2016 Asian Football Confederation U-19 championship on Oct. 2-6 also in Laos, where they are bracketed in Group J with powerhouse Japan, Australia and host Laos.
“It’s a very strong group. We hope to make good in the AFF so we can boost our confidence going into the AFC tournament,” said Gastanes.