The Pinoy youngsters succumbed to a technically superior Indonesia Red Dragons side on Saturday at the Rial Memorial Football Stadium 3-1. But the visitors got a big scare from a fiesty home team.
It's the fourth loss in as many games for the Philippines in the FAM (Football Association of Malaysia) – Frenz ASEAN Champions Trophy.
Frenz United is a Football academy in Pahang, Malaysia that trains young Footballers. It is bankrolling this tournament for fifteen year-olds in the ASEAN region.
Each nation fields a club or academy team but the Philippines was allowed to enter its U15 national squad. The Philippines is in Group B alongside Indonesia Red Dragon (also referred to as Frenz Indonesia), Lao Toyota, Myanmar's Mandalay FC, Frenz Malaysia B and Brunei's NFABD U15.
The sparse crowd at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium had hardly settled into their seats when the home team took a shock second-minute lead when striker JB Borlongan pressured left back Syahviar Amril.
Borlongan, a junior at Abba's Orchard school in Cagayan de Oro, pried the ball from the Indonesian defender, sidestepped Amril, then blasted a left-footed strike past keeper Achmad Iqbal Bachtiar.
Borlongan nearly doubled the Philippine lead in the seventh when he wriggled free with the ball on a breakaway. But this time his attempt was wide of the goal frame.
Soon after the visitors settled down and the supremely talented Dicky Romadhona shot at the keeper while Imanes Movanrianto shot over the bar.
In the 41st minute Indonesia Red Dragon leveled when Romadhona delivered a brilliant cross from the left flank that was gathered by Ichtio Nimatul Akhbar and hoofed in past keeper Michael Canggo Asong from San Beda.
Just before the half Asong parried away a long strike by Muhammad Dimas and tapped away another shot by Romadhona.
Three minutes into the second half Amin Rais Ohorella put Red Dragon in front with a header off a set piece.
The second half belonged to the visitors, as they piled on the pressure on the Philippines. Coach Anto Gonzales had the team in a 4-2-3-1 formation on defense with Borlongan the lone striker.
The Philippine defense held valiantly until the 90th, when Muhammad Awal Fajri picked up a rebound off the crossbar and poked home from close range.
The Philippine team was outplayed by a slick-passing Red Dragon side. The home side also showed an inability to move enough without the ball, which made attack difficult.
But Borlongan and keeper Asong definitely impressed, as did Javier Romero-Salas and Sebastian Patangan, who also had shots on goal.
The team has fallen to Frenz Malaysia B 3-0, Lao Toyota 2-1, Mandalay FC 4-1, and now Indonesia Red Dragon. Since the tournament has a home-and-away double-round robin format, the team still has six more games, three of them at home.
Gonzales says that with players scattered all over the Philippines, getting them together before weekend games is a chore. Twelve players flew in from the provinces, many from Mindanao and a few from Cebu. The team was unable to train properly before the game.
“We need more preparations and a couple of positions need to be strengthened” says Gonzales, who also coaches the UP Maroon Booters of the UAAP and plays for Pachanga Diliman of the UFL.
“I also want to get a midfield enforcer, someone who can win 50-50 balls.”
Gonzales flies out to Iloilo to check out the young talent from the Footballing hotbeds of Barotac Nuevo and Santa Barbara. His team will need reinforcements in the Asian Football Confederation U15 Championship qualifiers in September.
The team is slated to face Indonesia, Vietnam, and powerhouse Japan.
“We'll learn a lot from them” says Gonzales.
STARTING XI Philippines U15
Michael Canggo Asong (GK)
Jeremiah “JB” Borlongan
Rexon Zyrus Capellan
Marco Alessandro Casambre
Darius Joseph Diamante (Captain)
Major Dean Ebarle
Christian Floren Lapas
Josh Albert Miller
Sebastian Rafael Patangan
Mark Anthony Winhopper
PLAYERS ON BENCH
John William Abraham
Moielle Angelo Alforque
Harel Rainier Dayan
Dimitri Lionel Limbo
Vincent Erik Lovitos
Jovan Manding Marfiga
Kintaro Bugtay Miyagi
Ivan Dacullo Palmero
Ray Vincent Sanciangco
REMAINING GROUP STAGE FIXTURES:
June 22 - NFABD U15 vs Philippines U15 in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.
June 29 - Philippines U15 vs NFABD U15 in Philippines (venue could be Cebu or Manila.)
July 6, Frenz Indonesia vs Philippines U15 in Kota Bandung, Indonesia.
July 13, Philippines U15 vs Lao Toyota in Philippines (venue could be Cebu or Manila.)
July 20, Philippines U15 vs Myanmar Mandalay in Philippines (venue could be Cebu or Manila.)
July 27, Frenz Malaysia B vs Philippines U15 in Pahang, Malaysia.
Follow Bob on Twitter @bhobg333. You can learn about the FAM/Frenz Champions Trophy at the Frenz United Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FrenzUnited.