MANILA, Philippines – When Jarvey Gayoso stepped into the pitch of the Sylhet District Stadium, he knew it was a going to be memorable as he was checking an item off his bucket list – a Philippine men's football team debut.
"I was nervous, but unlike other games I felt good and excited to play," Gayoso told Rappler after he got to start for the Azkals in the 2018 Bangabandhu Cup game against Laos.
But he didn't know there was so much for in store for him in the game.
In the 53rd minute, the 20-year-old striker headed the ball off a Pika Minegishi cross into the back of the net that marked his first ever senior international football goal.
"Full credit to Minegishi. He gave a cross spot on and I was just there to head it. It was a dream come true to receive my first international goal in my first cap for the A team," said the elated Ateneo Blue Eagle who doubled the Philippines' lead to 2-0.
When Gayoso received the Bangabandhu Cup call-up last September 26, negative comments were thrown at him by some football fans. But the young Azkal made sure to tune out social media and stay focused on his national team duty.
"I’m pretty sure many wouldn’t be as comfortable seeing me compete here because I have little to no experience playing professionally and with older foreign players, but it has never shaken my competence and my desire to represent the country," said Gayoso
However, Gayoso fell short on defense as he was booked for a yellow two minutes after he scored the goal. Paolo Salenga eventually came in for the foul-troubled forward in the 62nd minute of the game.
The Nationals still won 3-1 over Laos thanks to goals scored off penalties by Jovin Bedic and Misagh Bahadoran.
Despite snagging 3 points and gaining an outright semifinal berth in their 2018 Bangabandhu Cup opening game, the new-look Philippine Azkals are still trying to jell.
"It’s difficult given the situation but we’re all professional and I don’t think it would be too hard to play well with each other," said Gayoso.
"We are familiar with each other because many of these guys compete against each other."
The Nationals will face the host Bangladesh on Friday, October 5, 6:30 pm (8:30 pm, Manila time) where a win will catapult them to the top of Group B. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.