THE Philippines’ Little Azkals capped an impressive stint in the six-nation Japan-East Asean Football Exchange Programme U-14 Youth Football Festival with a third-place finish at the sprawling J-Green Sakai football complex in Osaka, Japan.
The Little Azkals gained the respectable finish after a scoreless draw against a tough Singapore squad in their final assignment. The draw came after the Philippines side bowed 0-4 to host Japan which went on to win the title.
The U-14 Little Azkals, needing at least a draw to salvage third, accomplished their target when they came back in the afternoon and gave their all against the charging Singaporeans.
Indonesia, the other team to beat the Philippines, finished second while Singapore wound up fourth behind the Philippines, followed by Malaysia (5th) and Brunei (6th).
The Philippines closed out their stint with 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses. They opened their campaign on Tuesday by beating Brunei 3-0 on goals by Marco Casambre, Javi Romero-Salas and Mason Vergara, lost to Indonesia 2-0 before coming back on Wednesday with a win over Malaysia 2-1 on team captain Darius Joseph “Jed” Diamante’s two-goal explosion.
“It’s a great experience playing at this level, we learned a lot here especially when playing against the tough teams like Japan and Indonesia,” said the Davao-born Diamante.
The Little Azkals’ are composed of Cebu’s Lawrence Colina, Major Dean Ebarle, Kintaro Miyagi, and Vincent Erik Lovitos; Manila’s Marco Alessandro Casambre, Harrel Rainier Dayan, Josh Albert Miller, Ray Vincent Sanciangco and John William Abraham; Cagayan de Oro’s Jeremiah Borlongan and Dimitri Lionel Limbo; Davao’s Darius Joseph Diamante and Javier Romero-Salas; Dumaguete’s Christian Floren Lapas and Jose Anton Yared, Dipolog’s Sebastian Rafael Patangan; San Carlos City’s Mason Trent Vergara; and Italy’s Lorenzo Genco.
Coaching the squad is Oliver Colina.
The team is scheduled to arrive in Manila on Sunday via Hong Kong.