NEW CHALLENGE. Members of the  Camiguin-Misamis Oriental Regional Football Association (CMORFA) pose in this undated photo in preparation for the upcoming tournament in Cagayan de Oro City on June 24-28, 2022. The team is confident to rule Group G of the Mindanao elimination tournament of the Philippine Football Federation's National Boys U19 Championship Division 2. (Photo courtesy of CMORFA

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY –  Northern Mindanao's U19 (under 19 years old bracket) football players are all set to face their tough team opponents from Caraga Region next week, a game official here said Friday.

This came as the Mindanao elimination tournament of the Philippine Football Federation Boys U19 National Championship 2022 Division 2 is slated to kick off in this city on June 24-28 at the Pelaez Sports Stadium.

In an interview, newly appointed coach Ivan Caiña said he is confident that his Camiguin-Misamis Oriental Regional Football Association (CMORFA) will do well in the eliminations against teams from the Butuan Agusan del Norte FA (BANFA), the Agusan del Sur-Surigao del Sur Regional Football Association  (AGSSURFA), and the Surigao del Norte-Dinagat Island RFA (SNDIRFA).

“I think we could go through all the way if we play our cards right. However, we expect a down-the-wire race as only the top team of the group will advance to the Vis-Min National Group stage,” Caiña said.

CMORFA players concluded their tune-up matches early this week against senior teams here in Northern Mindanao with a 7-1 win over a strong selection of Cagayan de Oro (CDO) players.

It was their second win over the CDO selection after they escaped with a 3-2 win last week.

The CMORFA boys recorded seven wins, two draws, and two losses in their tune-up matches in their more than two months of preparation for the tournament.

They won against Mountain View College Football Club (FC), 3-0, Golden City FC, 6-2, Higala FC 7-2, Magis FC 3-2, BUFA 3-2, and the CDO selection twice 3-2 and 7-1.

They also drew with Malaybalay FC 0-0, and MVC Aumni 0-0 but lose to Bukidnon Faith 0-1, and Monte Carlo FC 1-2.

Caiña described his team as strong with a blend of experienced players and undiscovered talents.

“We have two very young but very talented players and most of the rest are Palaro players,’’ Caiña said, who is also the founder and head coach of the Golden City FC.

Experience-wise, the CMORFA team is led by former national U16 defender Josh Go, who  played in the 2016 Palaro in Albay for the Northern Mindanao Elementary football team.

He was also a member of the Philippine National U16 team in 2018 that played in Indonesia.

Other Albay Palaro players included in the team are defender Jeff Cascara of Rosevale School, midfielder Rafi Rubio of Corpus Christi School, Ino Butaslac of Corpus Christi School, John Gementiza of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines, Lyle Dy of Rosevale School, and Kent Quieta of Abba’s Orchard School.

Cascara plays attacking left fullback while Go attacking right fullback.

On the other hand, Rubio and Gementiza control the center midfield providing speedy passes for strikers Quieta and Dy, while Ino Butaslac plays as a central defender.

The CMORFA boys will start their campaign on June 24 against Butuan Agusan del Norte Football Association.

They will play against the Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur Regional FA on June 26. They will end their campaign against Surigao del Norte Dinagat Islands RFA on June 28.

The top team will advance to the Visayas Mindanao group stage. (PNA)