by Robbie Pangilinan
Perspolise will represent the Philippines at the World Finals at the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. in Praria Grande, Brazil after snatching the coveted win from tournament favorite Tondo FC at the Neymar Jr’s Five National Finals at Turf BCG, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, on April 21.
Perspolise’s head-coach Mikee Carrion feels honored to represent the country, adding that the team will go there to win and have fun at the same time.
Perspolise’s players Louis Serge Kaole, Otuyemi Emmanuel, Junior Stephen Ngong Sam, John Paul Canieso, Okoh Anthony Alechanu and Team Captain Hamed Hajimehdi, a member of the Iranian International Football team, scored 4-0 against Tondo FC.
Team Captain Hajimehdi, who has been playing football since he was 13, admitted it was a tough game.
“It was tough, but everything worked out for us in the finals. We brought out our best players and we are excited to go to Brazil!” he said.
Sports Director Anton del Rosario was rooting for Tondo FC but fully supports Perspolise on its endeavor in Brazil.
Tondo FC won football fans’ hearts last year at the inaugural Neymar Jr’s Five Philippine Qualifier when the team advanced to the finals even as it lost in an intense game against Naxional.
Tondo FC player Dennis Balbin said they prepared well for this year’s tournament and played better than last year.
“We worked on team defense and organization, learning that Neymar Jr’s Five is really a team effort,” he added.
On its second year in the country, Neymar Jr’s Five attracted many teams in a series of qualifying rounds in Manila and Cebu. Sixteen teams advanced to the National Finals. Neymar Jr’s Five, the Brazilian forward’s signature football tournament, gathers players from all over the world in a unique format. Each match lasts 10 minutes. There is no goalkeeper and when a team scores, the opposition loses a player.