If there’s one thing the public must know about the PHI U23s, it’s that these boys could put up a valiant fight and a great show. It’s a pity that the match last Sunday between these youngsters and the UFL All-Stars wasn’t televised—after all, the PHI U23s had a point to prove that they be allowed to compete in the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar this December.
They might be missing some more familiar names like Jeffrey Christiaens, Jason de Jong, and the Angeles twins, but the U23 side captained by Mark Hartmann looked formidable against an all-star squad that featured senior squad veterans like Chieffy Caligdong, Chris Greatwich, Anton del Rosario, and Misagh Bahadoran, among others.
Other than a goal by Izo El Habbib in the second half, the U23s have shown that they have solid defense, and have even come up as the more threatening side. U23s substitute David Fornea evened things up for the youngsters, as he tapped a rebound from close range to make the score 1-1, a tally that would hold until the final whistle.
This team may be mostly unknown names for now, but they do have the talent and potential—which can only be harnessed if given adequate chances to compete and be exposed to similarly categorized teams in the region.
One other highly anticipated “all-star” match is the Clear Dream Match, the second time the Younghusbands will be pitted brother against brother, on August 24.
Consider it Fantasy Football of sorts while you’re at it, since the fans will get to vote for their favorite players on the Clear Facebook page (facebook.com/ClearPH)—with the bonus of the “most digitally active” fan of the winning team joining the brothers for a trip to Brazil in 2014 (To watch the World Cup? To ogle at Brazilian women? To lounge at the Copacabana?).
Perhaps the best part of it all is that football legends like Dennis Wise and Fabio Cannavaro are paying a visit to this fledgling football nation and joining the Clear Dream Match, making things a tad more interesting for the fans.
In a month that will have Manila be graced by two basketball superstars, it’s quite amazing for longtime football fans to realize that these big names will be brought over. They may not be coming over at the height of their football careers, but hey, to have a World Cup winner like Canna grace Manila is quite a treat.
Really, anything to boost the sport and treat ardent fans is most welcome.