The Comeback: Returning 'Nano' Amita hopes to spark FEU resurgence

Santino Honasan on Mar 14, 2018 10:51 AM
Returning 'Nano' Amita hopes to spark FEU resurgence
“Puso lang. Puso lang at tiwala, kasi alam namin na challenge lang ni Lord ito eh, alam namin sa sarili namin na kaya pa namin na maka-bawi. Every game, tine-take namin as a championship game.”

With a forgettable first round of UAAP Season 80 men’s football action behind them, last season’s runners-up Far Eastern University looked to begin the second round on a strong note against a surging University of the East team in the middle of a resurgence.

Early on, it appeared as if the Tamaraws were once again headed for disaster as Red Warriors striker Mar Diano scored just seven minutes into the match to take a 1-0 lead into the break. Based from how FEU’s season was going, one would easily assume that UE was taking this one.

Down a goal late in the second half, FEU - a team that not long ago, reigned over the men’s football landscape for two consecutive seasons - needed to find a spark, something to turn things around, and they did so, in the form of reserves Resty Monterona and the returning Arnel Amita.

Within a three minute span, Monterona drilled two goals to put the Tams ahead, and just like that, FEU was in control.

A final goal from Gilbert Mendoza Jr. capped off the second half comeback for FEU to seal the 3-1 win, just their second three points of the season.

For the first time in a while, there was a sense of celebration within the Far Eastern huddle after the win over UE.

“That’s FEU football!” head coach Vince Santos was heard, telling his boys.

Another interesting thing to note during the huddle was the vocal presence of Amita. While it was Monterona who filled up the scoresheets for FEU in this game, it was Amita’s presence on the pitch that helped spark that epic second half comeback.

For the Tamaraws on the field and the FEU faithful, it was very good to see jersey #17 back and leading the charge.

It had been two full seasons since Amita, or ‘Nano’ to his peers, saw any real UAAP football action.

The 23-year old tore the ACL on his right knee during the offseason before UAAP Season 78. After six months of rehab, Amita felt as though he was good to go, and ended up re-tearing it three months later. In 2017, after getting another operation, Amita was told that he could possibly suit back up for FEU in the second round of UAAP Season 80.

“Yung doctor nagsabi na baka i-habol daw ako sa second round, so ito, andito ako sa second round, nakatulong ako sa team ko.”

Amita played briefly against De La Salle in the first round, but it was obvious that he wasn’t at full strength yet, far form the Amita that the supporters of the Green and Gold knew and loved. Far from the Amita that proved pivotal to FEU’s title runs back in Season 76 and Season 77.

And his return couldn’t have come at a better time.

Depleted by injuries and an undermanned roster, FEU managed only one win in their first seven matches, for just five points.

Last Thursday against UE, they appeared to be headed for another notch on the L column, but Amita had other plans.

“Naawa ako sa team kasi down kami 1-0, then sabi nga ng mga kasama ko na kailangan nila ako sa team, so, hindi naman sa pinagmamayabang ko na kaya ko sila buhatin, pero kaya ko silang i-cheer up sila kasi alam ko na may kakayahan din sila manalo as a team,” Amita said. “So yun ang ginawa ko, bilang senior, so ang ginawa ko is mag-move up lang sila, laban lang hanggang hindi pa tapos yung whistle.”

More than Amita’s ability to impact a game, something that UAAP fans have seen throughout his collegiate career, his return to the pitch was also an emotional boost for FEU.

“Kasi matagal na nila gustong makita ako na maglaro, so sinabi ko sa kanila na wag sila mag-alala kasi papasok ako ko, iiskor tayo, kundi, i-pupush ko kayo as a team. Hindi lang naman ako yung naglalaro eh, hindi ko naman magagawa ang lahat kung wala din sila.”

As a ‘Kuya’ on the team, so to speak, Amita has accepted the role of being the one to push his younger teammates. Now on his last tour of duty for the Green and Gold, Amita hopes to be able to hoist the men’s title one more time.

“As a senior, kailangan ko mag-step up para makitaan naman ako ng mga bata na yung senior nila, lumalaban, what more pa kaya pag tayong mga mas bata. Yun lang, kaya ko silang i-angat sa morale, yun yung number one.”

While a win to start the second round is a step in the right direction, the Compostela Valley native knows that there’s still a long way to go before they can even think about the championship. From now on, they’re taking every game as if it’s the most important game of the season.

“Puso lang. Puso lang at tiwala, kasi alam namin na challenge lang ni Lord ito eh, alam namin sa sarili namin na kaya pa namin na maka-bawi. Every game, tine-take namin as a championship game.”

It’s been a long journey back for ‘Nano’. Now, he begins his journey towards his third UAAP men’s football championship,

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