The Philippine Azkals Under-22 team showed its potential as it pulled off a 1-0 win over Green Archers United FC to open its 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara campaign on a bright note on Sunday at the Aboitiz Football Pitch in Lipa City, Batangas.
Lanky striker Chima Uzoka headed home midfielder Jerome Marzan’s right corner delivery early in the second half, powering the young Azkals on top of Group A with three points in their cup competition debut.
The U22 national squad, which joined the tournament in preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games, went ahead of three-time Philippines Football League champion Ceres Negros FC and Mendiola FC after the two shared spoils, 1-1, on Saturday.
Copa debutant Green Archers United fell to the bottom of the group.
It was an impressive debut for the retooled U22 team that features new overseas-based booters.
Filipino-Swiss goalkeeper Anthony Pinthus played brilliant between the sticks all match long, making crucial saves against the veteran-laden GAU side.
Fil-Norwegian defender Edison Suerti of Brattvag and Fil-Scottish midfielder Yrik Galantes of Gala Fairydean Rovers also started for the Azkals.
The national team’s full lineup was released prior to the match, with Ateneo De Manila University standout Jarvey Gayoso headlining the 22-man roster.
Joining forwards Gayoso and Uzoka at the front are Ivan Ouano (National University), Vince Diano (Mendiola) and Oliver Corbitt (Australian club Woden Weston).
Midfielders Jeremiah Borlongan (University of the Philippines), Pocholo Bugas (Far Eastern University), Troy Limbo (Sunderland RCA), Griffin McDaniel (California Baptist University) and JR Suba (San Beda University) were also called up.
Defenders Marco Casambre (Chainat Hornbill), Dean Ebarle (Mendiola), Jordan Jarvis (Resources Capital FC in Hong Kong), Jovan Marfiga (De La Salle University), John Saldivar (FEU) and Fritz Brigoli (former Global Cebu FC player) were selected as well while backing up Pinthus are keepers AJ Arcilla (Ateneo) and Michael Asong (San Beda).