Reigning champion University of the Philippines (UP) will be relying on its experience as it tries to inflict on Ateneo de Manila University its first loss this season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s football tournament (UAAP) on Sunday.
The Fighting Maroons started their season with a draw against De La Salle University and against the streaking Blue Eagles.
UP head coach Anto Gonzales knows they can’t afford to have a sluggish start versus the Blue Eagles.
“They are the hottest team right now. They have a lot of confidence but hopefully we can use our experience in dealing with their youthful exuberance,” said Gonzales.
He explained that they plan to continue with their strong defensive game plan in tackling the formidable offense of the Ateneans led by young prodigy Jarvey Gayoso.
“They are a very good attacking team but I think that we can be very disciplined defensively and stop them from scoring,” Gonzales stated. “Still, our philosophy is if we have a good and stable defense we’ll have a chance to score. So we’ll stick to that philosophy.”
The booters from Diliman are coming off a narrow 1-0 win over University of Santo Tomas last Sunday to extended their winning streak to three games.
UP rookie Marco Casambre stood tall in their victory, scoring the only goal of the contest with a scrappy strike in the 14th minute to seal the three points for his squad.
Gonzales believes that Casambre, who has already represented the country in the senior level internationally, was the only player who stepped up against the Growling Tigers.
“I think among the players in our back four in that game he was the only one who really performed well. The rest, I don’t know what’s on their minds during that game,” he said.
Gonzales downplayed the team’s latest winning streak as he’s more concerned of the improvement of his wards.
“It’s just a number. What is important is the performance of the players. We got out third straight win but we can’t be happy with the way we played,” he said.
“I have players who did not really perform up to our standards. [It was] just an overall poor performance from our team,” Gonzales added.