Sun 23 June 2024

UAAP football crown comes home to Diliman

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The University of the Philippines (UP) denied Far Eastern University (FEU) another double-treble as the Fighting Maroons have reclaimed the UAAP men’s football championship, 1-0, in the Season 86 final Thursday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Skipper Macky Tobias, who steadied the Maroons’ buildup for the entirety of the game, sank the game winner in the 50th minute via a penalty kick awarded to Most Valuable Player Francis Tacardon, who got fouled by Tamaraw defender Andre Yu inside the box.

That goal was enough to award the Fighting Maroons their 19th football trophy and their first since 2018

“Hindi ako tumitingin sa keeper, sa bola na lang ako tumitingin,” Tobias, named Best Midfielder, commented on his goal. “Yung inisip ko lang pumili na lang ako ng isang side tapos lakasan ko na lang.

It was a methodical game for UP, having more forays and chances in the final third, resulting in more shots on goal, until the 80th minute when FEU gained chances on counterattacks and set pieces.

The defending champs, tried their best but failed to equalize in the endgame.

The Tamaraws had three shots in a single counterattacking possession in the 80th minute, as well as a shot on goal in the ensuing corner play, that were all blocked by the UP defense.

The football gods smiled again on UP as Jermi Darapan’s header in the 88th minute hit the crossbar, reminiscent of Santo Tomas booter Francis Vercide’s missed penalty in the Final Four shootout that sent the Maroons the final.

Not even an additional seven minutes of injury time saved FEU from the loss as UP pressed hard to maintain the lead.

“We wanted it more. It showed on how we played. We were quite fortunate towards the end, FEU had an attempt but it hit the crossbar but our resiliency brought us up to the end,” said UP manager Popoy Clarino on his first managerial title.

Aside from the crown, UP racked the individual awards with Most Valuable Player (MVP)/Best Striker Francis Tacardon, Rookie of the Year/Golden Boot Ramil Bation, and Best Midfielder Tobias.

“Last season, we’re down, we missed the Final Four, but we kept fighting, we never stopped working,” Tacardon said after receiving his award.

“Till the end, till the final whistle, dinig na dinig namin kayo,” he added, crediting the support of the UP community for their championship.

The other individual winners are Bation’s co-Golden Boot Kofi Agyei of Ateneo, last season’s MVP Viejay Fregillana as Best Defender, Santo Tomas’ Miguel Abada with the Golden Glove, and the Blue Eagles with the Fairplay Award.

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