Daniel Matsunaga’s Team Naxional topped the Philippine leg of the Neymar Five Football Tournament after beating Tondo in the finals match on Saturday at Sparta in Mandaluyong City.
With the victory, the team of the former Team Socceroo FC striker Matsunaga in the United Football League (UFL) will represent the Philippines in the international round, which will be held in Brazil.
Team Naxional earned the ticket after edging Tondo in the one-on-one deciding round, where ex-UFL player Hector Zaghi sank the go-ahead goal against collegiate football standout Roberto Corsame, Jr.
“It was such a great experience playing alongside my former teammates. Every game was hard from the beginning,” the Brazilian-Japanese athlete and celebrity told reporters.
But the triump was also a heartbreaker for Matsunaga, who felt sad for putting an end to the fairytale run of the kids from Tondo in the competition although they are planning to include one player from their finals rival in their trip to Brazil.
“I feel bad about the Tondo guys because it is one of their dreams also. That’s why we’re going to bring one of their best players with us,” he said.
Matsunaga is referring Corsame, the Arellano University star who was impressive during their run in the tournament.
The Naxional’s top striker will still ask the organizers if they can include Corsame in their roster to the international round.
“Hopefully, Red Bull will allow that to happen. We have one available spot on our team that’s why we want to bring him also,” Matsunaga concluded.
The Neymar Five competition is the signature tournament of Brazilian international and is played in a street football style format.
JAELLE NEVIN REYES