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UAAP 80 MFB – UE def UST – Galaura celebrates
UAAP 80 MFB – UE def UST – Galaura celebrates

Football

Losing not an option for Red Warriors


“Ayaw naming magpatalo.”

University of the East Red Warriors skipper Joshua Polinag strongly uttered those three words moments after recording a huge 1-0 win over the previously unbeaten UST Golden Booters last Thursday.

While it may only be their second win so far in the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Football Tournament, it comes as a massive boost to UE’s bid in making the Final Four for the first time since the format was introduced in 2013.

Currently, they are in fifth place – two points behind the fourth-placed DLSU Green Archers. The season won’t be ending soon but a different result would have made things more difficult for the Red Warriors to barge into the Final Four.

The closest UE actually got to making it to the playoffs was four years ago. The Red Warriors had a good run in the first round where they collected 10 precious points. Afterwards, they only managed to grab just two more, losing ground in the second round. Ultimately, they had to make do with a fifth place finish.

The Red Warriors have been enduring a tough period ever since. Since Season 77, the Red Warriors never made it out of the bottom two. Two coaching changes had taken place since and while the first one didn’t provide the desired results, the latest one looks to have done the trick.

According to Mar Diano, UE’s tall, lanky forward, the team has been benefiting from the tutelage of Fitch Arboleda.

“Tinutukan kami ni coach sa atake namin. ‘Yung finishing, ‘yung passing, ‘yung less mistakes namin,” he elaborated.

“Sabi nga ni coach doon kami matututo sa pagkakamali namin. ‘Yun ang inimprove namin dito.”

A quick look in the statistics may not yet attest to a noticeable improvement in attack as the Red Warriors have only just netted four goals out of the six games they played so far. Nevertheless, they have proven to be a tough team to play against. Only the reigning champions, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, won by a big margin against Arboleda’s Red Warriors. Polinag attributes their new-found tenacity to an improvement in the team’s character.

“Nandiyan na ‘yung attitude namin na kaya naming makipagsabayan. Kaya namin silang talunin.

“Kaya namin silang sabayan sa kahit anong kinds of play nila,” he noted.

#ReadMore  Bulldogs muzzle Marck Espejo, Blue Eagles to take Game One

For a team that hasn’t been doing well in recent years, character development is one big step towards achieving their goals; yet it is not the only one. The Red Warriors are very much aware of it.

An area of improvement the UE players highlighted is improving their accuracy in front of goal. Scorer of the only goal in their defeat of UST, Regil Galaura shared that the team has been working on their movement in the attacking third.

While it has seen more chances from the Red Warriors than in previous season, the frequency of goals has yet to increase significantly. Galaura admitted that the number of chances wouldn’t matter if they couldn’t produce something in the end. “Wala kami masyadong fini-finish. May attempts naman kami kaso hindi sakto,” the midfielder/forward said.

Adding to their woes in front of goal is their tendency to be careless at the back. Polinag, a defender, took into account that most of the goals their opponents scored came off their own errors. Against UST, they made sure that the Golden Booters didn’t profit from their lapses.

“Iniwasan namin ngayon [na] mag-commit kami ng mistakes kasi every time na nagco-commit kami ng mistakes nacoconvert nila sa goal kasi opportunity taker mga kalaban namin. Kaya ngayon, naglaro kami nang maayos, naglaro kami as a team,” the captain said.

“Na-enjoy namin ‘yung laro.”

Aware of their deficiencies, the Red Warriors surely understand that one win doesn’t make an entire season. Good thing for UE, the season is just approaching the halfway mark. There’s still plenty of time for them to develop into a squad capable of making it to the playoffs.

#ReadMore  Joyce Francisco, UE snap UST's six-game winning streak in highly physical contest

For them to do so, Polinag stressed the importance of team’s solidarity on and off the pitch.

“Lahat nagtatrabaho as a team. Walang individial player na nagtatrabaho,” he proudly said.

Polinag and the rest of the UE Red Warriors now look to build on Thursday’s result as they conclude the first round by facing cellar dwellers Adamson Soaring Falcons. Having broken UST’s undefeated streak this season, they wouldn’t want to break another one-Adamson’s pointless streak that spans to six games in Season 80.

With their morale perhaps on an all-time high, the Red Warriors just simply couldn’t bear to lose. They’ve had enough of it and would do everything they can to do otherwise.

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