By Edri K. Aznar
ALTHOUGH the RP National Boys 14-Under squad only had a short preparation for its upcoming international stint in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Festival of Football Under-14 next week in Malaysia, head coach Oliver Colina is still targeting a strong finish in the tournament.
"Our target is finishing in the middle. We only had a month and a half of training. It's not enough. This is a big challenge to my coaching career," said Colina in a press conference yesterday at the Casino Español.
Colina has been scouting the whole country to gather the best 14-Under players. He picked some of the best in the Visayas region in the selection in San Carlos City last March and went to Metro Manila and Tarlac for the Palarong Pambansa to scout for the finest from Luzon and Mindanao.
After selecting the players, Colina housed them in a training camp in Don Bosco Boys Home in Lilo-an, where they hold practices twice a day, six days a week.
"The kids are committed to the team 100 percent," he said.
From 30 players that joined the training camp, Colina picked the 22 most competent among them for the final roster.
"All the players are qualified but we need the best and we need the most-disciplined to make up the team," said Colina.
The squad includes four Cebuanos in the final line-up - Renko Gaudiel of Bright Academy, Clint Ligan of Mandaue Institute of Technology, Jose Rafael Lipardo and Pericles Dakay Jr. both from Paref-Springdale.
The Philippines will take Malaysia, Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Timor Leste, Australia and Vietnam from June 2 to 6.
The press conference was also graced by Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Jose Mari Martinez, who said he plans to bid for next year's AFC Festival of Football 14-Under. If PFF wins the bidding he's looking at holding it in Cebu City.
Martinez's goal is to improve the ranking of the Philippines in the following years and he believes the grassroots will help the PFF achieve its long-term goal.
Sun Star Cebu