5 to watch for as the future of Philippine football

Kevin Estrada

Posted at Dec 10 2020 06:56 PM

5 to watch for as the future of Philippine football 1
Justin Baas (from left), Inna Palacios, Jarvey Gayoso, Alicia del Campo and Pocholo Bugas are some of the young phenoms of Philippine football.

From Paulino Alcantara to Freddy Gonzales and up to the Miracle in Hanoi squad, Philippine football has had its own fair share of icons for more than a century.

With the retirement of the Younghusband brothers, the need for the game’s standard bearers gets higher than ever, as Stephan Schrock and Neil Etheridge are now in their 30s.

We take a look at the quintet touted to be at the forefront of the game’s future in the Philippines.

JARVEY GAYOSO

Make no mistake about it.

Aside from having the Ocampo sporting genes, Ateneo’s footballing phenomenon is the current poster boy of the Azkals’ Development Team that plays as the guest in this season’s Philippines Football League.

Known for being a goalscoring machine for the Blue Booters (50 goals in 63 UAAP games), Gayoso had his speed and size tested last year when Azkals boss Goran Milojevic converted him from his usual spot up front down at the back for the Southeast Asian Games owing to his preference for Chima Uzoka.

Yet despite public outrage, he held his fort as he passed his versatility test with flying colors, patrolling the right wing with sheer intimidation while he was still given the green light to join the attack when needed.

Truth be told, having a two-way game can move places, and that could be a key for a move overseas for the 23-year-old.

INNA PALACIOS

The future of Philippine football also includes the rise of the women’s game, and it is imperative to have Malditas' number one to be on this list.

Although she is just 26 years young, Palacios is already a veteran in the international scene even when she was in her college heydays with La Salle, having been the country’s top custodian since 2012, except for their Women's Asian Cup return in Jordan two years ago where she was dropped to the bench for the entire tournament.

Like Gayoso, she also has the tools to have a move overseas as the Philippines after a solid 2019 where she played in all but one game as the Malditas made the last four in both the AFF tilt and the SEA Games.

The peak has yet to be reached but Palacios will lead the way for the sport, as they have the more realistic chance of being world class.

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JUSTIN BAAS

What makes a footballer endeared to its supporters? It's more than leaving it all on the pitch regardless of its consequences one can face.

That is why this 20-year old centre-half from Quezon City is on the list. A proud academy product of Dutch side AZ, Baas' energy and passion for the game is what the sport needed since he made his debut away at Guam last year in a World Cup Qualifier.

Already considered to be the future cornerstone of our backline, Baas reminds me of Aly Borromeo who leads the heart of the defence with loud intent.

Perhaps the best example of his passion was in last year’s SEA Games. After helping Anthony Pinthus earn his first international clean sheet by shutting out Malaysia, Baas climbed onto the fence of Rizal Memorial to celebrate like it is 1991. Now that’s what you call pride.

ALISHA DEL CAMPO

She owned 2019. Her goal-scoring stats both in the college and international side of things is a living proof of it. And yes, she was just 21.

With her up front as a true freshman, Del Campo led the Lady Archers’ attack with 10 goals as it broke their tie with FEU as La Salle won their record eleventh UAAP women’s football crown.

Then, she scored ten as well at the international stage. After hitting four against a hapless Macau in a friendly in Carmona, her hat-trick against Singapore put the Filipinas into the AFF Championship semifinal for the first time-ever.

True to form, Malditas’ gaffer Let Dimzon has full trust in her, who was part of that attacking line alongside Quinley Quezada and Sarina Bolden.

POCHOLO BUGAS 

What is a rare breed in Pinoy football? A player who turns pro straight outta high school.

That’s what the United City youngster did as he signed his first contract after leading FEU-FERN to its 10th straight UAAP high school title.

There is no doubt that football runs into the family, with no less than his Kuya Paolo that also had success domestically and internationally, with both of them having played for the U23 Azkals in the Southeast Asian Games.

Sky’s the limit for the 18-year old, as he had a veteran core that will guide him, most notably with the Azkals skipper.