The DLSU Green and Lady Booters are set to redeem themselves after failing to reach the finals of last year’s UAAP Men’s and Women’s Football Championships.
Both teams were pegged at third place with the Green Booters four points adrift of second seed UST, and the Lady Booters five points behind their FEU counterparts.
The Green Booters are coming off from a fresh championship victory in the 2011Philippine University Games (UNIGAMES) heldinRoxas City, Capiz after pounding the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos 4-1 in the finale.
The Lady Booters also bagged titles off-season; they ruled in three of five competitions they joined.
New breeding grounds
Both of Coach Hans Smit’s troops are using the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium pitch for their training sessions.
Prior to their use of the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, they had to train in the Enrique M. Razon Sports Complex, which gave them a tough time on the pitch due to the disparity of playing indoors.
Their new training grounds provided them a better training regimen because of the stadium’s world-class turf.
Hectic preparation duringtheoff-season
After a two-month post-season break, the DLSU footballers returned to training with their prized recruits, scouted throughout the country.
The DLSU Booters worked on full-scale training up until September, when they shifted their focus on tactics for the upcoming UNIGAMES tournament.
Before the tournament, the Green Booters also chipped in 7-a-side tournaments such as the Kia Cup and Alaska Cup. The Coach Hans Smit’s boys were divided into two reaching the quarterfinal stages before being knocked out by eventual finalists, Kaya FC and Nomads FC.
Some of the players were handpicked to join the NCR team for the Suzuki Under-23 Cup. Moreover, the Green Booters also played tune-up games against at least two UFL teams every week.
Meanwhile, the Lady Booters competed in the Rexona Cup, wherein they assessed the rookies’ performance alongside the mainstays. The girls were also pitted alongside several universities, including all of the five UAAP teams, at the Metro Manila Girls Football Association (MMGFA) Cup after the Rexona Cup.
The MMGFA is one of their three pre-season championships; the Alaska Cup and the Coca Cola Cup are the two others.
The Ladies in Green-and-White, however, went on to lose against a sturdy UP team via penalty shootout at the Kia Cup. They were also a step shy of reaching the finals of the UNIGAMES after UST eliminated them in a penalty shootout at the semifinals.
To prepare for the start of the season, the Lady Bootershad tune-up games against the men’s first and second-string teams to develop a more physical type of play.
High hopes for the Booters
Despite losing key players such as seasoned Nico Paolo Villa and Ana Frumenti, both squads remain eager and optimistic that they will bring back the championships to Taft Avenue.
Green Booters co-captain Angelo Roque expressed the desire of the team, especially his batch, to win this year’s championship, which would fittingly end his last play with the team. “Target naming mag-champion, as a team [Our target is to become champions as a team]. Hindi na siya sineset ni Coach Hans because ‘yung batch ko,ever since we got here in La Salle, third kami, laging bigo, [It was not set by Coash Hans because ever since my batch started playing we always came in third place]” he shares.
The Green Booters’ line-up lacks experienced playersdue to injuries and axed ineligibility due to failing grades.
The Men’s rosters, however, acquired seven rookies who are certain to bolster the campaign to claim the much-coveted championship, which DLSU last earned in 1998.
Among the high standouts are forwards JY Chua and Sabin Bustamante, defenders Jules Villahermosa, Gregory Yang andGerald Lamuyas, and mid-fielder Hector Ian Jorge Borromeo.
Lady Booters co-captain Miel Ampil echoed their hunger for the crown, which they last saw in 2009. “We really want to get this tournament since we know that we can do it,” says Ampil.
They also have seven new talented players who will have the opportunity to gain experience easily as the same number of players will be leaving after this season.
The Lady Booters also boast rookie Maria Mustonen who has to sit out a year of residency after graduating high school from Finland. Mustonen featured at the team’s off-season tourneys; she has been impressive thus far.
Roadblock to the title
The two squads are aware that a championship will not be a walk in the park since many other teams have been equally impressive.
The Green Booters need to be wary of the titleholders UP and football powerhouse UST, which boasts national team U-23 players like Jinggoy Valmayor and OJ Clariño, respectively.