Manila Jeepney FC executed great counterattacking football to outwit Division I champions Ceres-La Salle FC, 2-1, to finish the 2015 United Football League tournament in style, Wednesday, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The League titlists went to work as soon as the kickoff whistle sounded with their great ball distribution. Ceres Midfielder, Manny Ott tried to connect to Jayson Panhay at the eighth minute, but the latter could not finish. The blue-shirts kept on sending balls into their final third that forced the Los Manileños to clear. On the other hand, the home team attempted on their chance against the run of play; nonetheless, an attempt from Arthur Kouassi, at the 11th minute, went straight to the mitts of Ceres Keeper, Louie Casas. At the 25th minute, the visitors finally got the reward they deserve; Cho Kyum Som delivered a timely cross to Panhay on the right flank, who blasted the ball out of reach of opposing custodian, RJ Joyel, and into the net.
The lead did not last long for Ceres, however, as five minutes after the opening goal the home side was able to equalize. Jeepney Winger, Gary Epesso had a good run on the right flank, which was abruptly ended when Marvin Angeles fouled the midfielder conceding a free kick. Far Eastern University (FEU) standout, Val Jurao sent a decent ball into the box, only as far as Kim Sang Min. Moreover, the Korean defender attempted to head the ball out of danger, but instead sent it into the onion bag and past his teammate Casas.
Nevertheless, the champions kept their aggression on the attack to rectify the lapse. In the last few minutes of the first half, Manila Jeepney’s Joyel stood his ground to stifle the barrage of attempts from Ceres. Martin Steuble and Bienvenido Marañon sent the ball into the dangerous area, only to be denied by the young keeper. Soon after, the halftime whistle was sounded with both teams knotted at 1-apiece.
It was a similar story in the second half, as Ceres-La Salle picked up from where they left off in the first. Marañon’s imprint in the game was all over the place, as the midfielder has sent several shots into the box. Nonetheless, the home side held their fort, anchored on Joyel’s excellent work between the posts.
As in the first half, it was the Los Manileños who made most of their few opportunities towards the goal. At the 55th minute, Epesso connected to Kouassi in the middle, who then passed the ball to Nicolas Ferrer on his right. Ferrer tapped the ball pass the outstretched arms of Casas to snatch the lead for the white-shirts. With the momentum, Manila Jeepney gained confidence, as they were able to open up the defense and got share of the possession. On the defense, the home squad stifled any attempt by the League champions to preserve the lead. The match ended with the Los Manileños finishing their League campaign with a stunning upset of Ceres-La Salle, winning 2-1.
Manila Jeepney’s keeper, Joyel, who made 8 saves in this match, remarked that he tried to focus on the game. The young upstart shared, “Nakinig lang ako sa mga tactics na tinuturo ni Master Kim.” Joyel also feels that his performance against Ceres-La Salle will be a fitting send off for him as he joins his college team, Far Eastern University, in the World University Football Cup. When asked if this good work would carry over to the UAAP season, the goalie simply ended, “Sana po.”
On the other hand, Head Coach Ali Go praised his wards despite the loss. The mentor expressed, “The boys played good; they dominated everything. But, we were unlucky. This is football; things happen.” Go attributed the subpar performance due to lack of motivation; nonetheless, he salutes his team for playing well despite it being a no-bearing one. When asked on the absence of Golden Boot awardee, Adrian Gallardo, in the Cup, the tactician ended that he expects his other players to step up for him in that said tourney.
Ceres-La Salle ends the league season with 43 points, while Manila Jeepney lands in seventh place with 16 points just above Pachanga-Dilliman.