Ceres-Negros defender Joshua Grommen will again represent the country in the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur from August 14 to 29. The young Ceres star was called up in the national U22 team that will feature collegiate and club standouts in the biennial tournament.
Grommen was first called up this year in the U23 squad that traveled to Bahrain last March to play two friendly games in Manama. The former Brisbane youth player fondly recalls the challenge they faced in the Middle East. “Bahrain was good. They were fast and technical and being (in the) Philippines, a lot of the players were still getting used to the fast pace of the game. The first game wasn’t too good but the second game, most of the players put in the hard work and it was a good game, good experience” said Grommen.
Josh was also part of the U23 squad that played in the AFC U23 Championships Qualifiers in Cambodia where they played Japan, China, and the host nation. The U23 squad lost all of their matches but improved steadily as the competition grew.
“Very good experience in regard to football and experiencing other cultures of the world since that was my first time in Cambodia. The three games we played where against Japan, China and Cambodia. Japan where on another level which was expected being semi-finalists in the recent U20 World Cup but the Cambodia and China game were very close and I was proud of the boys for the effort that was put in,” he added.
The Ceres centerback will now take on a new challenge in taking on Southeast Asia’s best which includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand in the SEA Games. Though the team lacks preparation compared to its neighbors, Grommen is positive that they can achieve results as a team.
“Personally I believe we could qualify to the next round if the boys really work hard and give everything out on the pitch. The team hasn’t had much practice together preparing for this tournament but we have come together well as a team in that period we have had together before the SEA Games start. I honestly believe in the players we have brought to the games as they listen and learn which is very important in a big tournament like this, so I think overall we can do well,” said the Aussie born Filipino.
The Phillipine Mens U22 squad will face Cambodia in their opening match on August 15 at the Selayang Stadium and Grommen is already well aware of the arduous task ahead. “Cambodia will be tough as we have played them before in Cambodia but I believe we have come prepared for the match and are ready to win. As long as we concentrate and play together as a team, I think we can go far within this tournament,” he added.
Grommen will be joined by Ateneo’s Jarvie Gayoso, La Salle’s Yoshiharu Koizumi, Meralco’s Daniel Gadia and Ace Villanueva, and Davao’s Richard Talaroc and Dylan De Bruycker. The Mens team will end the group stages on August 24 when they face Timor Leste. The semis are set on August 26 with the final coming in three days later.
Photo from Sovanna Kem