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PFL Roundup: Ilocos earns Ceres draw; Davao stuns Kaya



With the Finals Series participants all but determined, fans may be forgiven if they are simply waiting for the 2017 Philippines Football League elimination round to end and playoffs to commence.

However, the past weekend’s games proved to be big, especially for Ilocos United Football Club.

Pasinabo rescues Ceres point against determined Ilocos, 1-1

Before Saturday’s 7:00 PM duel against Ceres Negros Football Club, Ilocos had only won one game in 26 attempts this season.

The odds were stacked against Ilocos, as they were up against the ASEAN Zonal champions, but the former fought for pride and had nothing to lose. The game may have ended 1-1, but it was very different compared to when the home side were routed 0-7 and 0-5 by the Bacolod club earlier in the season.

Center-back Adam Mitter volleyed the ball home in the 35th minute to give Ilocos a dream start to the game. Upon the game’s resumption, Ilocos played good defense to thwart the Ceres bombardment, and had two chances to double their cushion. Striker Arthur Kouassi forced a good save from Roland Muller, then Chima Uzoka wasted a big chance afterwards.

Ilocos paid for those missed chances as Arnie Pasinabo equalized in the 77th with a shot from outside the home team’s box.

The game finished 1-1 and both sides lamented their missed chances after 90 minutes of play.

Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic shared, “We missed a lot of chances in the first half. The intention was to finish the game in the first half. It was obviously different. We tried in the second half to score the goal but we missed a lot of chances also.

“When you don’t have nothing to win, nothing to lose, and you had many games, it’s not easy to motivate you to play. I think that is the difference. I think the players played with no motivation and intensity. When you play like this, it is much more difficult to win,” added Vidakovic.

Ilocos are still at the bottom of the league table with nine points, while Ceres are at 2nd place with 53 points.

Guirado brace hands Davao away win against Kaya, 3-1

One of the Philippines’ forgotten football stars, Angel Guirado, reminded local football fans of his stature with two goals to help Davao win 3-1 away versus Kaya Makati, at the University of Makati Stadium in Makati last Saturday, 7:00 PM.

“For me it’s the team that’s most important. When the team works good, the team wins. I am very happy because I scored, but most important is that the team has three points more and looking forward to also preparing for next season. This is good for the confidence of the team,” commented Guirado.

Guirado, who last played for the Azkals in 2013, scored two headers in the 26th and 74th minutes to seal the victory for the Aguilas.

Kaya defender Alfred Osei volleyed home Kaya’s only goal of the match in the 58th minute to level the game from Guirado’s first-half goal, only for Davao’s Harrison Sawyer to tap the ball into the net seven minutes later.

Already up 2-1, Guirado sealed the deal with his second header of the match 16 minutes from time, to hand the Aguilas all three points for the 3-1 victory.

Davao head coach Marlon Maro commented, “I’m happy and satisfied because we lost to Kaya on our home turf, and now we’ve beaten them as well on their home turf, and it’s because the players really wanted to win tonight.

“For me, the delivery of crosses was the main reason why we scored lots of goals. We were able to take advantage of our height. What’s positive tonight is that the players responded well to the plan,” added Maro.

The result was Davao’s third win, which hands them 18 points in 7th place. On the other hand, Kaya’s ninth lost leaves them in 3rd place with 47 points. It was also Kaya’s last game in the elimination round.

Late Gadia goal lifts Meralco to first win over Global, 2-1

As incredulous as it sounds, FC Meralco Manila’s 2-1 away win over Global Cebu was the former’s first victory over the latter this season, as there had been two draws and a Cebu win beforehand.

Global were the home side for this contest, but had to play on Meralco’s home turf Rizal Memorial Stadium due to unavailability of the Cebu City Sports Complex last Sunday.

Tahj Minniecon broke the deadlock in the 31st minute thanks to an Ashley Flores assist, while Global forward Pika Minegishi volleyed the leveler six minutes later.

Both teams stood toe to toe with one another, and Meralco coach Aris Caslib brought on Daniel Gadia for Franco de la Torre with only 11 minutes left in the match.

Gadia repaid Caslib’s faith as the UAAP Season 78 MVP struck in the 86th minute to hand the Sparks a 2-1 edge with only four minutes left in the game. “All week we had been reminding Gadia to just place the ball on his finishing. In the last 15 minutes of the game he did his job well,” commented Caslib.

It was Gadia’s first goal of the season, and if he was the hero at the other end, then it was his fellow Fighting Maroon Ace Villanueva who saved Meralco in their end of the pitch when the goalie made a fine stop to deny Global’s Rufo Sanchez a late leveler.

“We were unlucky with our chances in goal, so many from so near,” lamented Global coach Akbar Nawas.

Meralco’s 2-1 win extended their grip on first seed with 57 points, while Global remained in 4th place with 44 points.

On Deck

There will be two games on November 21. Davao targets another win away to JPV-Marikina at 4:00 PM while Ilocos hopes to go one better and nail a big upset against Ceres at 7:00 PM.



Bienvenido Marañon, Iain Ramsay strike as Ceres knocks out Kaya to reach Finals



Photo from Ceres Media

It is but fitting to see the 2017 Philippines Football League final contested by one of region’s top teams in Ceres-Negros Football Club.

Following a 1-0 away win against Kaya-Makati last week at the University of Makati field, the Busmen were just 90 minutes away from competing in the first PFL final. And they did so after picking up a 2-1 win in the second leg of the semifinals, Saturday evening at Panaad Stadium.

Bienvenido Marañon provided Ceres with a dream start when he headed Arnie Pasinabo’s cross into goal in the 30th minute to give the home side’s fans something to cheer about.

Marañon’s header not only handed Ceres first blood in the game, 1-0 — it also gave a valuable 2-0 lead on aggregate.

But Kaya refused to give up. Down 0-1 after the first leg, Noel Marcaida’s men knew they had to score an away goal to give themselves a fighting chance of making it to the finals.

The away side’s prayers were answered two minutes before halftime. Miguel Tanton saw his free kick parried away by Ceres goalie Roland Muller, only for the latter to watch as Antonio Ugarte rebounded the ball towards the back of the net.

Ceres and Kaya drew 1-1 at the break, which meant both clubs had much to play for in the next 45 minutes.

The two clubs had multiple opportunities to get that all-important second goal after the break and it was Negros who found a way to break the stalemate thanks to clever individual skill.

Iain Ramsay took advantage of some faulty Kaya defending when he intercepted the ball and looped over Kaya goalie Ref Cuaresma, who could only watch at that moment in the 78th minute.

Kaya failed to find another goal in them to give themselves hope.

Ceres’ 2-1 victory gave them a 3-1 aggregate win over Kaya. The win allows Risto Vidakovic’s men to advance to the PFL finals, where they will meet Visayas neighbors Global Cebu for the right to be crowned champions on December 16 .

Qualification to the 2018 AFC Cup has also been assured for Ceres thanks to this victory, while participation in the 2018 AFC Champions League is also possible if the Bacolod club wins the championship.

On the other hand, Kaya will face Metro Manila rivals Manila Meralco for the third place playoff, also on December 16. Possible qualification for the 2018 AFC Cup is at stake for the winner.

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Rufo Sanchez, Global eliminate Meralco, set up showdown with Ceres



Eliminated in the 2017 AFC Cup knockout round and lost in the recently concluded 2017 Singapore Cup final, one can be forgiven for thinking that Global Cebu just doesn’t have any gas left in its tank after so many heartbreaks this year.

Come the end of a grueling second leg contest against Meralco Manila, Global showed a champion’s heart to seal a 1-1 draw tonight at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.

The draw was enough to see Cebu through to the 2017 Philippines Football League finals as Akbar Nawas’ men prevailed 2-1 last week.

Rufo Sanchez’s 85th minute goal proved to be the moment which brought Global to the promised land.

“I think it was a very hard fought match,” commented Nawas. “Yes we conceded an early goal but that didn’t mean we had to panic. I knew with this team we could always get a goal back.”

Global endured the worst possible start it could have envisioned in the game. Meralco got he goal it needed to calm its nerves after just two minutes of play when the Sparks’ pressing forced Global into its own half which led to Curt Dizon opening the scoring.

From then on, Meralco sought to protect its lead which would have guaranteed them a place in the finals thanks to the away goals rule.

Meralco opted to allow Global to attack in the hopes of springing a counterattack while the latter was comfortable with possession. Cebu could have leveled the game at the 8th minute but Wesley Dos Santos’ header was ruled out due to offside.

The Cebu club kept on pounding on Meralco’s door and got another chance to get that equalizer when Pika Minegishi’s freekick found its way to Rufo whose header hit the crossbar.

Meralco carried a precarious one-goal edge at halftime as Global looked the more likely to score the inevitable second goal in the contest.

A similar tale followed upon the game’s resumption. Meralco as good as parked the but and left itself susceptible for a Global onslaught. Minegishi thought he got Global’s leveler only for Meralco defender Joaquin Cañas to clear the ball at the goalline.

Cebu inched closer to the goal. Meralco goalie Jun Badelic turned away a Darryl Roberts freekick to keep the scores as it was. Come the 85th minute, Global finally got the goal it deserved.

Rufo capitalized on a Meralco misclearance to put the ball past Badelic amd send everything into bedlam. Global players were relieved and in a celebratory mood while the Sparks looked as if they didn’t have any ideas left to force extra time.

Global ended up 1-0 victors and 3-2 winners in aggregate. The Dan Palami-owned club not only secured itself a ticket in for the December 16 final against Ceres Negros, it also booked a seat for the 2018 AFC Champions League or 2018 AFC Cup at the very least.

On the other hand, Meralco will also play next week on December 16 for their third place playoff match against rivals Kaya Makati. The winner of that match could secure possible participation in the 2018 AFC Cup.

“This is all credit to the players and what we’ve trained last week and that information that we’ve given them. But take nothing away from Rufo’s goal and the way the players fought,” concluded Nawas.

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Philippines grouped with China, Thailand in 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup



There is no such thing as an easy road towards glory

The Philippine Women’s National Football Team qualified for the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup earlier this year in Tajikistan, excitement arose as to who the Filipinas will face in the big dance this April 6 to 20, 2018 in Jordan.

After a draw was held at the King Hussein bin Talal Convention Center in Jordan, the Philippines will now face host nation Jordan, the People’s Republic of China and regional neighbors Thailand.

Both China and Thailand competed in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup that was held in Canada. China reached the quarterfinals stage while Thailand was eliminated at the group stage. China and Thailand are ranked 13 and 29 respectively in the latest FIFA Women’s World Rankings.

Thailand and the Philippines last faced off in the 2017 SEA Games held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which the Thais won 3-1.

On the other hand, Jordan is ranked 50 in the current rankings. The last time the Philippines and Jordan faced each other was April 12, 2017 in the Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers where the latter enjoyed a a comfortable 1-5 victory.

All things considered, this is a kind draw as the other group includes South Korea, Australia, Vietnam and Japan.

The target for the Filipinas would undoubtedly be to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will be held in France. There are five slots available in this tournament and a fifth place finish will be enough for the Philippines to book a ticket.

The team will be handled by American coach Richard Boon who is the squad’s first male coach since 2013. The Filipinas’ participation in the upcoming tourney will also be the country’s first entry since the 2003 edition.

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Young Philippines squad loses twice in Chinese Taipei tourney



A national selection mostly composed of UAAP and Philippines Football League players took to the international stage last December 1 to 5 in Chinese Taipei to compete in the Chinese Taipei Football Association International Tournament.

Davao Aguilas mentor Marlon Maro was the designated head coach, while the team was managed by the Mindanao club’s owner Jefferson Cheng.

Stallion Laguna and Davao were the PFL clubs who released players for the team. Laguna sent over Nathanael Alquiros, Fitch Arboleda, Ruben Doctora Jr., Yannick Tuason, and Reynald Villareal. On the other hand, the bulk of the team came from Davao.

The Davao players were Junell Bautista, Jaime Cheng, Justin Cheng, Reymart Cubon, Dylan De Bruycker, Angel Guirado, James Hall, Nick O’Donnell, Simone Rota, James Younghusband, and Phil Younghusband.

Current UAAP stars in the lineup include Julian Clarino, Christian Lapas, and Kintaro Miyagi of the University of the Philippines; Javier Gayoso of the Ateneo de Manila University; and Ray Joyel of the Far Eastern University.

Kaya Makati’s Adam Tull and Thailand League 2 side Angthong United’s Mike Ott rounded up the members of Maro’s team.

All games were held at the Municipal Stadium in Taipei.

Maro’s men were off to a fine start to the competition last December 1 when they defeated Laos 3-1. Phil Younghusband took advantage of an assist from his brother James to open the scoring in the 35th minute.

Come the second half, Guirado overpowered the opposition defense to double the Azkals’ edge, while Miyagi sealed the win afterwards late in the period. With the Philippines’ win all but clinched, Laos managed to score a consolation goal in stoppage time.

Two days later came a rude awakening for the team. Up against host nation Chinese Taipei, the Philippines folded 0-3 after 90 minutes.

Headers from forward Mao Li in the 38th and 62nd minutes powered Chinese Taipei to a commanding two-goal cushion against the Philippines. The Filipinos failed to retaliate and were left to succumb to another header, this time from Ting-Yang Chen, rounded up the 0-3 loss.

The Filipinos’ last day in the competition was on December 5 against East Timor. The fixture was seen as an opportunity for the Filipinos to bounce back.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan. The Filipinos failed to score for the second straight game, and were left to concede a sucker punch late in the game when Da Silva Garcia Silverio Da Resurecio eluded the Philippines’ defense shot past Joyel for the game’s only goal.

The Philippines ended up losing 0-1 to East Timor, in what was arguably its most embarrassing result in this competition.

Ultimately, the team won one game and lost twice in this pocket tournament. It just goes to show that there is still so much to be done in order to beef up talent pools, whether for the main Azkals squad or youth teams.

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