Dolphins vie in Asian beach soccer elims

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 21 2013 03:38 PM | Updated as of Jan 21 2013 11:38 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Dolphins left for Qatar yesterday carrying big dreams as they vie in the Asian qualifiers of the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup 2013 from Jan. 22-26 at Katara Beach in Doha.

The Dolphins are bunched with Iran, China and Iraq in Group D but the Beach Football Association of the Philippines (BFAP) is optimistic the Dolphins’ innate agility, speed, fitness and experience will serve them well in their bid to make it to the Sept. 18-28 World Cup in Papeete, Tahiti.

“The team has a combination of speed and fitness, more so on the younger ones, and experience from the veterans,” BFAP secretary-general Rea Celine Villa told The STAR yesterday.

The BFAP called up Azkals Nestor Margarse and Roel Gener as well as Army players Ronel Gener and Wilson de la Cruz, who all have previous World Cup qualifiers experience, and brought back Kale Alvarez, goal-scorer in the Pinoys’ 2008 game against Japan.

It also recruited Fil-foreign bets who are playing beach soccer abroad – Fil-German Oliver Potschke and Fil-Am Sean Hungerford – and tapped youthful Joshua Beloya of Ceres and Jason Arroyo of Nomads for the campaign. Tasked to man the goal for the team handled by BFAP president Ahmed Athab is Tats Mercado of Air Force.

“In my opinion, we have a better fighting chance this year compared to the previous two (qualifiers) because we have a good variety of players,” said Villa.

The Dolphins open their campaign against Iran, third placers in the 2006 qualifiers, tomorrow, then take on China, fourth placers in 2008, on Wednesday, and Iraq on Thursday, aiming for no less than the top spot in the group to advance to the semifinals.