After putting their 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara campaign off to a positive start, Azkals team manager Dan Palami believes there is still a lot to improve for the Under-22 (U22) squad.
Speaking to the media after the his side’s slim 1-0 win over Green Archers United that signalled the beginning of their cup campaign, the national team boss noted that there are still several elements that needed adjustments in their game and is still quite not yet near the finished article required for the Southeast Asian Games.
“I could say from that game (against Green Archers that) there are a lot of positives, but we have to make sure that (we cover) all the details.
“We made a lot of mistakes. There were a lot of lapses and we were not consistent throughout the game.”
Despite the straightforward assessment by the manager on the things that needed improvement, Palami still provided an air of optimism due to the immense potential shown by the young national squad.
“Even then (with the inconsistencies), we were able to get the win so if we are able to fix those bad habits, then I’m sure we’ll be a stronger team and that’s what we are going to aim for in the next games.”
Meanwhile, Stallion Laguna head coach Ernest Nierras, who is also part of the U22 coaching staff as one of the assistants heaped praise to his young wards who were able to show fortitude especially on the defensive end late in the match, when the Archers (who impressed in their debut season in the PFL) mustered a late concerted effort to find an equalizer to no avail.
“These (U22) players… they were fighting like crazy! Chima (at forward, was) going after everything. The back four played so well. (Anthony) Pinthus (at goal) was amazing,” shared Nierras of the national team.
“We created some chances, which is important. But the important thing was the attitude of the players. We kept on going (throughout the match). So that was important.”
Up Next: The Invincibles
The important result put the Young Azkals flatteringly in the drivers’ seat of the four-team pool that comprises Group A.
However, the team knows that a much tougher task is up ahead as they are about to face undefeated league champions Ceres-Negros who will look to bounce back after squandering a two-goal lead to end their opener against Mendiola in a draw.
“We have to play our game,” said Palami on the prospect of facing The Busmen on Wednesday.
“We can’t expect Ceres-Negros (in the cup) to be (lesser in strength than their league form). I’m sure they have a lot of pride and they would want to make sure that get this win (against us)… It’s going to be a good test match for our U22 (and) I think we could give them a good fight.”
Philippines U22 will next face Ceres-Negros in Group A of the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara on Wednesday, October 30, at 4PM in Binan Football Stadium.
Photo credit: The Azkals