The only thing left to be determined in the 2017 Philippines Football League is who will finish at the top of the standings between FC Meralco Manila and Ceres Negros FC, at the end if the elimination round.
Both clubs have already booked their tickets to the Final Series, and the game could been seen as a preview of a potential post-season clash.
Ceres have the better head-to-head record against Meralco in the PFL this season with two comprehensive wins in three games. In contrast, Meralco only enjoyed a narrow win against Risto Vidakovic’s men.
Goals were expected in the first PFL fixture to be held at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite last November 24, but none arrived after 90 minutes.
Meralco’s Curt Dizon had two good chances to snatch a late goal and seal first place at the end of the elimination round as he saw his free kick parried away by Ceres goalie Roland Muller and his next attempt denied by the post which Ashley Flores failed to rebound into the back of the net after another Muller stop.
It ended Meralco 0-0 Ceres, which could cost the former the top seed since Ceres have a game in hand. As it stands, Meralco are still top with 58 points, while Ceres has 57.
Ceres’ superior goal difference of 51 compared to Meralco’s 10 could be the game-changer in terms of which club finishes top after the regular season.
Vidakovic commented, “It was very important to keep the players free from injury. No injuries means a successful day for us.”
The other result of the weekend saw Davao Aguilas and JPV-Marikina end their respective seasons with a 1-1 draw at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila last November 25.
JPV captain Takashi Odawara handed his club a one-goal lead after 12 minutes of play with a typical predatory finish, while Davao Aguilas defender Brad McDonald answered back in the 57th minute.
With the 1-1 draw, JPV and Davao end their campaigns in 6th and 7th place respectively. Marikina have 33 points, with the Aguilas beneath them with 22 points.
The last match for the elimination round shall see 2017 Singapore Cup finalist Global Cebu host Ceres November 28, 7:00 PM at the Cebu City Sports Complex.
A Ceres win or draw — due to their superior goal difference — will see the Bacolod club leapfrog Meralco in the standings for the first seed. If that happens, then it will be Ceres vs Global and Meralco vs Kaya Makati in the Finals Series.
If Global pull off a win, then they will go up against Meralco, while Ceres shall face Kaya in the semi-finals.