The Far Eastern University Tamaraws revived their UAAP Season 80 Men’s Football Tournament Final Four hopes with a 3-1 victory over the University of the East Red Warriors this Thursday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
While FEU are still stuck in 7th place, goals from substitute Resty Monterona and Gilbert Mendoza allowed the Tamaraws to raise their points tally to 8. On the other hand, UE slid down to 6th place with 10 points.
“I think in the first round we were really not prepared both mentally because of the number of players we lost and the injuries that we still had. With a roster of only 16 (players), I think we were unsure of ourselves but there were some matches there that we showed what we’re capable of and for the second round I think we just go back to those moments that we played well and we just have to focus to be more consistent in the second round,” said FEU coach Vince Santos.
The Red Warriors got the lead after just seven minutes of play. Mar Diano beat the Tamaraws’ offside trap and latched on Clark Bagsic’s pass to draw first blood for the Red Warriors. UE went close to conceding themselves soon after, though, as FEU’s Ray Joyel headed narrowly wide at the other end.
Upon both teams’ return to the pitch for the second half, it was FEU who started brighter compared to UE. The Tamaraws moved the ball well in one sequence that allowed Rino Saldivar to have a chance at goal that went over.
FEU clearly raised their game in the period. Tamaraws striker Alex Rayos, Jr. was unmarked at the far post, but he failed to direct his header towards Red Warriors goalkeeper Frank Rieza’s goal.
With the game and and perhaps their season on the balance, FEU brought on veteran midfielder Arnel Amita to change the game for the Tamaraws. Amita’s presence on the pitch proved to be the spark FEU needed, as he sprayed passes left and right to unlock the UE defense.
“We always knew (Amita) would be back at some point in the season. As you saw today he really brings a different level of confidence back to the team. I hope we just work on his fitness so that he is able to play more minutes as we go into the second round. The goal is really to get to the Final Four and hopefully we’ll be ready,” added Santos.
All of FEU’s hardwork in the second half finally paid dividends in the last 20 minutes of the contest. Resty Monterona scored twice in four minutes to overturn the Red Warriors’ lead. Monterona beat UE’s offside trap to score his first in the 70th minute, and he converted a cross from the right-flank in the 73rd minute.
The Red Warriors were down and out after Monterona’s quick brace. With the game already won, the Tamaraws had their icing on the cake when Gilbert Mendoza unleashed a great strike six minutes from time to seal FEU’s 3-1 win.
The two schools shall next play on March 15 at Rizal Memorial. UE will go up against the University of the Philippines as 2:00 PM, while FEU take on the University of Santo Tomas at 4:00 PM.