The DLSU Men’s Football Team looks to regain their composure and aim for the title this season, with the beginning of the UAAP’s second semester in full swing. After taking an early exit last Season 79 with a record of four wins, four draws, and six losses, the team has been working hard to get back to the top.
“I’ve never been sixth place in my life, in my career ever. So that’s a big thing that happened, that is why I said it’s never gonna happen again till the day I die, never,” claims Hans Smit after the renowned coach experienced the worst season of his career in the UAAP Men’s Football Tournament. He takes note of attitude as one of the reasons why the team was not very much polished last year.
“I’m getting a team that has the right mental preparedness, people who want to play as a team and then you know those who support each other and I think we’ll do better this year,” he adds as they prepare to embark on the road to redemption.
Finishing at the bottom half of the table was a devastating moment for the team but with a new season and a fresh start, the men’s team was able to prepare by having various team events such as having regular training, doing extra work, and joining different tournaments like the University Games (UniGames) and Alaska Cup. The Green and White finished fifth with a record of 1-2 in the UniGames last October in Dumaguete City after dealing with a tough loss against UP Diliman, 0-1, and the University of St. La Salle Bacolod,1-2. However, the Lasallians had a resounding victory against Foundation University with a final score of 4-0.
Team captain Noel Brago shares that their training sessions were more serious and were aimed at what they lacked last season. “What we really lacked last season was composure which shows us that our finishing really needs to be polished and worked on,” he elaborates.
On the other hand, Smit sees inexperience in their past friendly matches, however, he is prepared to take on the challenge with a much younger team. “People know me as someone who shouts a lot but that is not because I’m pissed off, that is a push to players because I know what they can do and I know what they can’t do and in 40 years I have never forced any of my players to do anything they cannot do,” says Smit who emphasizes fitness and discipline as the key aspects in his system. He also adds that he would take any player who has the right attitude over any superstar.
After losing key pieces in the lineup like defender Jhoguev Ybanez, wingers Nace Gonzales and Jose Montelibano, and Gelo Diamante who have now used up their playing years of eligibility, the team also lost striker Rigo Joseph due to injury. According to Brago, Joseph suffered an ACL tear in his right knee during a practice game, making him unavailable this season. Meanwhile, Alfonso Montelibano, and Andrei Carlos will also not be part of this year’s lineup.
The squad will definitely miss the veteran experience from the graduated seniors and will be needing its reinforcements to step up. The likes of Brigz Tiu, Joem Logarta, Gyan De Vera, Paolo Fernandez, and Kang Kim who will be taking on the role of the defenders, Manu Cruel and Renzo Perez as midfielders, and Mateo Alegre as their striker and replacement for Joseph.
All out support
A potential contender Smit sees this year is FEU, even though the team from Katipunan were crowned last year’s champions. An intact lineup and an effective recruitment are his given reasons. Meanwhile, Brago sights UST as another tough team to match. Both agreed that these teams mostly have provincial players and play with tremendous team chemistry.
Brago also mentions that the team is pressured to improve their place from last season. But entering as its captain, he promises to guide his teammates and push them to their limits in order to help them realize what they can achieve this season. “[I want to] pull the team para mas maging one unit kami. That will be our strength, which is strength in unity.”