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PFL Roundup: Ceres-Negros trashes league-leading Meralco Manila

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Another round of 2017 Philippines Football League weekend fixtures saw some dramatic games, one of which could very well be the season’s most shocking result yet.

Ceres-Negros repeats seven-goal show against Meralco Manila


Before this match, Meralco Manila Football Club led the standings without a single loss. That statistic was shattered last July 15, 2017 at their home pitch Rizal Memorial in Manila as the Sparks suffered a 0-7 trashing by Ceres-Negros Football Club.

“The players played very serious today. When we do it like we did it today, no problem,’ shared Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic as he witnessed his men demolish the opposition. Spanish forward Fernando Rodriguez opened the scoring at the 17th minute with a fine strike and the Busmen didn’t look back.

Rodriguez got another goal four minutes later to secure a brace, but it was Azkals star Iain Ramsay who stole the show with a hattrick. The Filipino-Australian midfielder got the first of his goals at the 36th minute to hand his club a 0-3 cushion at the break.

If Manila thought that Negros would take its foot off the pedal, it was wrong. Come the restart, a goal each from Ramsay and fellow national team comrade Stephan Schrock (49′ & 50′) made it a 0-5 with 40 minutes left to play. Ramsay secured got his third of the game at the 74th minute before an own goal by Meralco’s Alvin Sarmiento in stoppage time made the fulltime score read 0-7 in favor of Ceres.

It was a crushing defeat for Meralco and its coach, Aris Caslib, looked to put the drubbing away from his players after the game. “We allowed them to dictate the tempo, but better to lose now than in the important stage of the competition,” commented Caslib.

With the win, Ceres climbs up to 3rd place and 19 points while Meralco retained it’s lead at the top of the standings at 23 points due to other results going the Sparks’ way.

Davao Aguilas hold Global Cebu to goalless stalemate


Perhaps the biggest losers of the weekend was Global Cebu which failed to breakdown the Davao Aguilas and had to make do with a 0-0 draw at the Cebu City Sports Complex last July 15.

It proved to be a frustrating night for Cebu as Davao as the latter’s defense proved to be too difficult to score against by the home side. Goal difference would have allowed Global to leapfrog Meralco at the top of the standings courtesy of a win, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

As for Davao, this result is arguably its second biggest of the campaign. The Davaoenos secured a 2-2 home draw against Kaya-Makati a few weeks back and this fixture cements the notion that they can compete with the very best in the competition.

Cebu has to made do with 2nd place and 21 points while Davao is stuck at 6th place with five points.

Second half show sees Kaya-Makati defeat JPV-Marikina


Kaya-Makati extended its winning streak to three games after it condemned to JPV-Marikina to back-to-back losses last July 16, 2017 at the University of Makati field. Goals from Jordan Mintah and Robert Mendy’s helped Kaya to a 2-0 home win and strengthen its position in the top four.

Kaya coach Noel Marcaida explained, “I’m very happy for the win. All the players performed well. They responded well to the plan before the game. Playing a tough team in JPV, and having a good result like this will really be a motivating factor for Kaya.”

Following a goalless first half, Mintah opened the scoring at the 60th minute after he latched on an Adam Reed pass and finished calmly to break the deadlock. That wasn’t the Ghanian forward’s contribution to Makati’s cause as it was his clearance which allowed Mendy to secure the three points after 80 minutes.

After the win, Makati sees itself at 5th place with 17 points while Marikina is down to 4th place with 18 points.

Ilocos, Stallion draw 1-1 in abandoned match


The last fixture of the weekend saw Ilocos United and Stallion Laguna play out a 1-1 stalemate at the Quirino Stadium in Ilocos Sur.

Chima Uzoka drew first blood for Ilocanos at the 25th minute with Jhan-Jhan Meliza leveling the scores for Stallions three minutes later.

Unfortunately, the game had to be abandoned due to the rain and unplayable condition of the pitch. As per PFL rules, the score stands as the match was canceled at the end of the first half.

Ilocos are still bottom of the league with 2 points with Laguna a place above them with 3 points.

ON DECK


July 19, 2017 (Wednesday) is the next matchday for the league. Per the league’s official website, JPV-Marikina will host Stallions at 4:00 PM while Kaya shall play Ilocos afterwards at 7:00 PM.

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Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory

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Photo from the-AFC.com

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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Contributed photos

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

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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

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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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