The UAAP Season 78 Men’s Football Tournament had a subdued start as the Far Eastern University Tamaraws and the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons endured a cagey, scoreless game at the McKinley Hill Stadium.
Before kickoff a minute of silence was held immaculately for former UP Fighting Maroon Rogie Maglinas. The Fighting Maroons then shouted “For Rogie!” in their team huddle. Inspired by their teammate, UP played an aggressive start with captain Daniel Gadia leading from the front.
On the other hand, the Tamaraws were able to resist the aggressiveness of the Fighting Maroons. Both teams showed rustiness and were careless in possession at the start of the game. It took awhile but the Tamaraws were able to impose themselves over the Fighting Maroons in the game. The Tamaraws won two free kicks, the first of which failed to test the keeper while the second hit the Fighting Maroons’ wall.
FEU’s Reymart Cubon made the first shot on goal which was easily saved by UP goalkeeper Ace Villanueva at the 23rd minute. Dave Deloso and Val Jurao then added to FEU’s wastefulness after both players squandered chances at the far post sequentially. Cubon had another big chance to score when he was through on goal but Villanueva again thwarted him. Tamaraws captain Eric Giganto beat the Fighting Maroons’ offside line but this second touch let him down.
As for UP, they had to rely on set-pieces in order to attack FEU. UP coach Anto Gonzales was visibly frustrated at his team. The first half ended 0-0 with FEU frustrated to not have the lead and UP having lots to think about at halftime.
It was a similar story for UP once the second half started but this time rookie Jeremiah Borlongan came to life and threatened the FEU goal twice in succession. Giganto again eluded the UP defence but Villanueva was alert to stop the danger. FEU goalkeeper Rey Joyel was forced to work afterwards when UP’s Ian Clarino forced him to make a fine save at the 73rd minute.
A penalty shout was made when UP’s Adrian Rafanan fell in the FEU box but the referee waved it off. It was FEU who pushed to find the winning goal. The Tamaraws had four shots in the last fifteen minutes of the game. Two of those attempts went wide or over the bar while the others were saved by Villanueva. In the end, both teams had to make do with a frustrating draw.
FEU Tamaraws assistant coach Dexter Chio felt his team had to make changes in the central midfield due to Nano Amita’s injury while he also praised the rookies. “Kaunting adjust na lang”, when asked what he felt about the game.
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