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Kaya boosts quest for top spot; Stallion blanks Ceres in midweek rematch



Two games took place in the Philippines Football League yesterday with Stallion-Laguna and Davao Aguilas hosting Ceres-Negros and Kaya-Makati respectively.

The home sides were looking to claim huge scalps as they plot to make the race for playoff spots more interesting. The away teams, meanwhile, plan to rack up as many points as possible approaching the home stretch of the season.

Results mean so much more at this part of the season so the desire of all teams in contention will be put to the test.

Kaya-Makati picks up valuable win away against Davao Aguilas

Kaya-Makati tightened their grip on second place after securing a 2-0 win against a tricky Davao Aguilas side yesterday evening at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum City.

Jordan Mintah and Miguel Tanton were in amongst the goals as the Makati side set themselves up with a crucial rivalry duel against FC Meralco-Manila this coming Saturday.

The score did not reflect how straightforward the occasion was for the visitors, whose early dominance in the encounter was nearly nullified by a decent Aguilas opportunity. Former Meralco-Manila star James Younghusband had a decent glance on goal but his effort drifted over the frame.

Dodging a bullet, Kaya-Makati went to look for a goal before the break to help settle their nerves. After multiple thwarted attempts, Noel Marcaida’s wards got what they were searching for thanks to Mintah. The forward who hails from Ghana towered above everyone else to head the ball in. His initial effort was blocked but he was at the right place at the right time to make no mistake in the rebound. The glorious moment put Kaya-Makati in front, 1-0, right before halftime.

“I think the difference of the game is my players really switched on and stayed sharp when it comes to set pieces defensively and offensively. That’s why we got two important goals from set pieces,” Marcaida highlighted after the match.

Indeed, the second goal came from a free kick. At the hour mark, Tanton stepped up to take the set piece just outside the penalty area. Given the opportunity to strike from around 20 yards, the Kaya midfielder did not waste his chance to impress the crowd while also collecting a vital goal. His top corner strike made it a bridge too far for the Aguilas, who were fortunate not to lose by more.

Tanton actually could have had his brace late in the game, but his screamer from 25 yards was disallowed due to an offside infraction leading to the shot. It did little to dampen the mood of the away team who are now just a point behind the Sparks, a team they will meet on Saturday.

10-man Stallion-Laguna earns revenge against lackadaisical Ceres-Negros

Fine displays on both ends of the pitch rewarded Stallion-Laguna their first win against Ceres-Negros this season when they recorded a 2-0 win yesterday afternoon at the Biñan Football Stadium.

Gabriele Mascazzini and Ruben Doctora Jr. bagged a goal each with Benito Rosalia also claiming a deserved clean sheet following his stellar performance that shut down the potent Ceres attack. A red card issued to Nicholas Ferrer Jr. late in the game may be the only bad thing to note for the hosts who moved to fifth in the standings.

Early in the game, Rosalia got on top of the things by making routine saves to deny Jeffrey Christiaens and Omid Nazari. His counterpart, Ceres’ Roland Müller, was not idle also as he was prepared to deal with Mascazzini’s strikes.

At 0-0 approaching the final 10 minutes of the half, the cagey affair looked set to be opened up. Fortunately for the hosts, they have their keeper to thank for as he stood out once again to prevent the visitors from taking the lead.

Iain Ramsay’s ball initially missed Stephan Schröck but it eventually found Arnie Pasinabo. The Negrense then directed the ball towards the goal but Rosalia managed to keep it out with an alert stop using his lower limbs. It proved to be a crucial stop as it did not only keep the scores level for it also set up a perfect finish to the half for Stallion.

Already gathering steam following near chances by Nathan Alquiros,Fitch Arboleda and Mascazzini, the home team claimed the breakthrough goal right before the break. They got it through a ck combination of Alquiros’ capability to send good crosses and Mascazzini’s knack for finishing shots from close range. Unmarked upon receiving the ball, the Stallion forward drilled past Müller to give his team a rare lead against Ceres.

Trailing by a goal, the Negrenses played more aggressively on the attack which left them little cover in dealing with counter attacks. Alquiros almost exposed their flaws on defense if not for Müller getting to stop his long range effort just in time. The hosts may have not gotten the insurance goal there but they made sure the next opportunity would count.

Doctora breached past the offside trap to punish Ceres’ defense before the experienced national team forward slotted past the helpless Ceres goalkeeper and making it 2-0 to the hosts with just about 30 minutes left in the game.

The visitors knew by then that they needed to double their efforts if they are to salvage at least a point. Again, it was Rosalia who steadied the ship at the back as his stewardship made the Stallion defense too compact for Ceres to break into.

As time winded down, the tempers of the men in black also rose. A manifestation of this was Schröck’s rash challenge on Ferrer Jr. The former Hoffenheim man drew the ire of the FEU alum who responded to the infringement by kicking the Azkal. The referee held nothing back by issuing a straight red card to the two-time UAAP champion winger. Schröck got booked for his foul while teammate Kevin Ingreso was also cautioned for getting involved in the incident.

Those late cards would render the duo suspended in their next match against JPV-Marikina this Saturday.

Stallion held on to a famous win against the Negrenses despite falling a man down with only five minutes to go.

By negotiating the result, they moved back to fifth in the standings. However, it seems that they won’t be able to finish the season with enough points to make it to the playoffs unlike sixth ranked JPV who still have six more games to play. Laguna only have three matches remaining with fourth ranked Global-Cebu enjoying a six-point buffer. In addition, the Cebuanos are also due to play five more games prior to season’s end.

Nonetheless, it fittingly rewards Stallion for their exploits in the latter half of the season. Another opportunity to win more points will come for the Laguna team when they pay Davao Aguilas a visit this Saturday.



Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory



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2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Brazilian football legend Zico to visit Manila



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One of the best to ever play the Beautiful Game is coming to the Philippines. Zico, who electrified the footballing world in the ’70s and ’80s, is slated to visit Manila on the weekend of January 27.

The Brazilian, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, is considered one of the best footballers in the world during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Zico starred for the Brazilian national team, scoring 48 goals in 71 appearances for the Selecao. In 1999, the attacking midfielder came 8th in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, and in 2004 was named in FIFA’s list of the world’s greatest living players.

Zico played for legendary Brazilian club Flamengo and also for the Italian Serie A team Udinese. He finished his playing career suiting up for Kashima Antlers in the J-League, the top tier of Japanese football, leading them to an unlikely runner-up finish.

The 64-year-old also had a successful managerial career, leading Turkey’s Fenerbahce, Greek team Olympiacos, and CSKA Moscow to titles. Zico was also in charge of the Japanese national team when they won the AFC Asian Cup in 2004. Because of that accomplishment, Zico is one of the most beloved football figures in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Seven Seas Properties, a company that promotes Philippine real estate and Philippine stocks in the Japanese market, is bringing the football icon here.

“We are delighted to welcome Zico to the Philippines. I’m sure he will give a big boost to the growing football scene here,” says Seven Seas Properties President Yukihiro Nishimura.

Zico will attend a CSR event with young footballers from underprivileged communities on Saturday, January 27. The following day, Sunday January 28, he will lead a football clinic for elite young players and coaches in the McKinley Hill stadium in Taguig. Football fans and media are welcome to watch this event, which kicks off at 2:00 pm. Admission is free.

Zico in Manila is also made possible by Otsuka – Solar Philippines, Inter Sports Partners, AgriNurture, and Primex.

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Jake Vicen saves Saint Benilde’s season, forces winner-take-all



For most of the match, College of Saint Benilde Blazers’ goalkeeper Jake Vicen was under pressure. However, that just set up his heroics in the end.

The third-year custodian came up big with two huge denials in the shootout, as the Blazers won 4-2 after the match ended at 3-3 after 120 minutes against the Arellano University Chiefs, Friday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Applying the same game plan and using their speed advantage, the Chiefs pummeled the Blazers’ defense, plucking a chance at the set piece. The free kick went for naught, but the succeeding sequence turned into the go-ahead goal.

In the seventh minute, the ball bounced in front of Arellano captain Cymun Sanquilos, who blasted the ball into the top corner past the outstretched arms of Jake Vicen.

The rest of the first period was a defensive clinic from the Season 91 champions, as Saint Benilde were left scouring for opportunities to level the match. The green-shirts simply waited for that moment, as their possession improved and their attacking aggressiveness increased in the following period.

At the hour mark, Dean Ebarle received a low cross inside the penalty area, and finding himself unmarked, slotted the ball into the bag for the equalizer.

Both teams tried to break the deadlock once more, only neither team could not barge through the opposing defense in the remaining minutes of the second half and the whole of extra time.

Thus, the match has to be decided on kicks from the penalty spot.

Vicen and Jericho Desalisa denied the second kickers setting up a dramatic finish, to which the former turned his focus, “Sabi ko sa coaches, ‘Kukunin ko ‘to. Yung shoot out di naturalist hangga’t ‘di pumipito yung ref.”

Patrick Bernarte missed miserably wide as Vicen was on point, setting up long-time teammate Moiselle Alforque for the winning spot kick.

Head coach Marlon Maro was pleased on how the Blazers had responded in this game. As for the sudden-death match, he commented, “May the best team win.”

That third and deciding match is scheduled on Wednesday also at 6:00pm.

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Arellano draws first blood in extra-time classic against Benilde



Big time players come up with big time plays in the biggest stage

NCAA Season 91 Most Valuable Player Jumbel Guinabang has scored twice. But no goal was as huge as his second in extra time, propelling the Arellano University Chiefs to take Game 1 of the NCAA Seaosn 93 Seniors Football Finals from the College of Saint Benilde Blazers, 3-2, Friday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Right from the get-go, the action was intense, as both teams plucked two goals. Guinabang ​received a good long delivery and ​swiftly took the opening goal just three minutes from kick off. However, the lead did not last long, as Daniel Liozo equalized just seconds after for Saint Benilde.

In the 26th minute, the Chiefs once more intercepted a Benildean pass in the midfield before Charles Gamutan made a speedy run to the opponent’s goal for the second go-ahead shot past Jake Vicen.

​Saint Benilde skipper Renz Tulayba might have taken four minutes to put the match back on level terms, but it was a similarly well-executed counterattack that knotted the score at two apiece.

Despite the score line, Arellano head coach Ravelo Saluria was pleased with his boys performance especially in this period expressing, “Happy ako. Sinunod nung mga bata yung game plan lalo na nung first half.”

Gambling on positional changes in the second half, the Season 91 kings almost paid for it. The Blazers pounced on opportunities to take the upper hand in the following period, with returning Dean Ebarle and semis hero Wilmer Lopes knocking on the blue-shirts’ door. However, the forwards were not able to convert these chances, as Arellano keeper Jericho Desalisa kept himself busy.

The situation continued well into the extra time before Saint Benilde almost ran away with the match winner. Carmelo Genco fired from the top of the penalty box, but Desalisa did well enough to parry the shot for a corner kick. The Blazers froze after that missed opportunity on the set piece, as an errant pass was once more picked up by the Chiefs

Defender Patrick Bernarte found himself with the ball and sped to Vicen’s goal. The wing back found Guinabang up front and the former MVP wasted no time to slot the ball into the goal for the clincher with just three minutes left in the extension.

Nagtataka ko kung bakit maraming nag-cramps,” Saluria expressed. Nonetheless, it was the determination of the former champs that prevailed to snag the victory. “Puso lang talaga nung mga bata.”

Arellano (1-0) will shoot for their second title in three years when they clash with Benilde (0-1) again on Monday, January 15, at 6pm.

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