Kintaro Miyagi makes Cebu proud by scoring the Azkals third goal vs Laos
CEBU CITY, Philippines - Cebuano Kintaro “King" Miyagi was not part of the Philippine Azkals first 11 in their first match against Laos in the ongoing four-nation Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) International Tournament in Taipei, Taiwan.
But when he replaced no less than his idol Phil Younghusband, in the 70th minute of the match, he made sure to give it his all. Indeed, Miyagi did not waste his first time to play for the senior men’s football team by scoring the Philippine’s third goal in the 90th minute. The Philippines won, 3-1.
“No naman, I was not expecting too much cause I don’t want to disappoint the team by giving them high hopes. I’m just glad I got to add a score for our country in my first international game as an Azkal since this will hopefully boost up the self esteem of other young football players that nothing is impossible as long as we work hard with dedication and passion to what we all love to do, football,” said Miyagi when asked if he was expecting to immediately score a goal in his first international stint as an Azkal.
The last time that a Cebuano played for the Philippine Azkals was in 2015 when Paolo Pascual was goalkeeper for the national team. He later hang up his gloves to pursue his aviation dreams.
Now, the Cebu football community and the rest of the Cebuanos have an extra reason to cheer again for the Philippine Azkals.
“I felt very happy because it is my debut as a player in the Philippine senior team a.k.a the Azkals. It really is a day to be remembered for me since this is an international game and I got to score a goal for our country, the Philippines,” Miyagi said.
Miyagi is no stranger to representing the Philippines in international tournaments being part of the Little Azkals U13 and U14 batch 2011, the most successful youth boys team to date in the history of Philippine football. Back then, he was a defender and not a striker.
The current CTFL tournament is, however, Miyagi’s first as a member of the Philippine Azkals.
“Yes, it is my first time to be called up for the Philippine’s senior men’s team. I felt really excited and nervous at the same time knowing that at a young age, I'll be able to play with my childhood idols like Phil & James Younghusband, Angel Guirado, Simone, etc.”
The 19-year-old footballer is also one of the UAAP stars, playing for the UP Fighting Maroons.
The third year Bachelor of Physical Education student joined the University of the Philippines-Diliman when he was offered a scholarship by the team’s head coach Anto Gonzales. The two worked together when Miyagi played for the Philippine U15 coached by Gonzales. That team played in the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM)-Frenz U-15 ASEAN Champions Trophy in 2013.
His teammate with the Little Azkals then, and now in UP, Christian Floren Lapas of Bayawan, Negros Oriental, is also now an Azkal.
Prior to that, Miyagi also helmed the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles to a lot of titles and to city, regional and Palaro meets representing Mandaue City and Central Visayas.
“I adjusted to the team through our trainings. Like when the seniors correct me with my minor mistakes, it gives me the confidence to talk and be comfortable playing with them even though I’m still new in the senior men’s team. Also through meetings, they don’t make me feel that there should be a wall between the seniors and the newly picked up players who are younger.”
Miyagi dedicated his first goal in his first international cap to God and many people close to his heart most especially fallen UP Fighting Maroon teammate Rogie Maglinas. Miyagi wears the No. 13 on his jersey, the same number as Maglinas who succumbed to cancer in 2016. "I want Rogie to know that as time passes by without him here on Earth, he is still living with us in our hearts playing what he loves most, football.”
As one of the young footballers of the Azkals, Miyagi knows that he has to be mentally prepared for the team and the tournament.
For young footballers in Cebu he said, “never stop dreaming. I was once a young boy too who didn’t know I’d reach this far. I just kept playing football, I wouldn’t miss even the smallest tournament there was in Cebu even if it meant my mom getting mad at me because she didn’t want my white jersey, socks and shoes to be dirty and full of mud again after it’s being washed and cleaned.”
Miyagi said this means having a lot of sacrifices.
“I would wake up as early as 5 am just to go to training when I was in high school and go straight to class at 8 am and train football again after class. On the weekends, I would play wherever there’s a tournament. Sometimes when I get called up for national duty, I fly to Manila Friday night from school and fly back to Cebu early Monday morning and go straight to school again."
Miyagi pointed out that one of the sacrifices he had to make was to give up a comfortable life in Cebu to chase his dream in Manila.
“When I graduated high school, I got a scholarship offer from Coach Anto Gonzales to play football for the UP Men’s Football Team. From then on, my life has changed. I had to be independent because it meant I wouldn’t have my mom around anymore to do almost everything for me, from waking me up, cooking me breakfast, preparing my clothes and things, bringing me and picking me up from school. All those luxury of having a mom and having my family around every day was taken away from me when I moved to Manila. But I decided to stick with my decision because of my love for football.”
Aside from Laos, the Philippines will also face host Chinese Taipei and Timor Leste. – Rappler.com