MANILA, Philippines - Organizers of the third PFF Suzuki U23 National Cup hope to discover talents who can potentially represent the Philippines in the coming Southeast Asian Games.
PFF president Nonong Araneta and Suzuki Philippines president Satoshi Uchida said the U23 National Cup will provide the venue for outstanding players to prove their worth as aspirants for the Phl U23 team seeking for a breakthrough podium finish in the Myanmar SEAG.
“Through this tournament, we will get to see the future of Phl football,” said Araneta during yesterday’s launch event for the third edition of the PFF Suzuki U23 National Cup, which opens hostilities next month via the Regional Qualifying Rounds featuring the top 10 teams, led by defending champion Negros Occidental Football Association.
“We look forward to a high level competition among teams and players but we also expect to see a showcase of fair play and sportsmanship. Further, we are excited to see emerging young footballers whom we can tap for the upcoming SEA Games and hopefully become part of our seniors team later on,” he added.
For his part, Uchida said: “We wish to highlight our commitment to football and sports through our sponsorship of the Cup. We remain true to our vision of providing an arena for talented football players from the grassroots to enter the national team.”
Negros Occidental, bannered by 2011 SEAG standout Joshua Beloya, leads the cast in the All-Visayas Regionals slated April 15-20 in San Carlos City, competing with rivals from Iloilo and Cebu.
Masbate, Laguna and Baguio-Benguet figure in the All Luzon Regionals set April 8-13 at UP Los Baños, Laguna while North Cotabato, Iligan-Lanao del Norte, Davao and Zamboanga duke it out in the All Mindanao Regionals on April 22-27 in Davao City.
The participants will play a double round robin tourney in the regionals with the top two teams in each region advancing to the Final Qualifying Round at Perdices Stadium in Dumaguete in May.
The outstanding players of the National U23 Cup will be invited to a camp in May for the tryouts for SEAG-bound pool, which is expected to be beefed up by Fil-foreigners who are still eligible for the U23 competitions, like Jason de Jong and Manny Ott.
“No player is assured of being members of the U23 team. They really have to fight it out (for slots),” said Araneta.