The first battle of the champions is already in the books with Ceres-Negros FC bagging another victory over their Visayas rivals Kaya FC-Iloilo.
That game had everything we were looking for but still, it felt like something is missing. It had goals, physicality and a lot of drama. With that, here are your five takeaways of that match brought to you by Tito Jay.
The busmen still have the upper hand against their rivals
16 meetings, 11 wins, two draws and two defeats. That’s the all-time record of Ceres-Negros FC over their rivals and they’ve notched their 11th win against Kaya FC-Iloilo by going through the eye of the needle.
With eight minutes remaining in the first half, the busmen got their first advantage over the visiting side when Arnel Amita got his marching orders after a scuffle with OJ Porteria.
Jovin Bedic’s possible goal of the season contender strike from distance caught the busmen surprised however, they’ll eventually come back to the game.
Video by: Philippines Football League
Though the goal was a screamer, it did not dampen the hopes of the busmen who wanted to prove that they are still the best in the country.
They scored two goals in a span of four minutes courtesy of Bienvenido Marañon and killed any chance for Kaya to either equalize or win the match.
“We’ve faced a lot of times in the last three years. For me, they are the second-best club in the Philippines. We knew that they’ll be a tough opponent today and it was hard until the last moment,” said their team captain Stephan Schröck about their opponents.
He then added, “It was not that clear but we won and that’s all that matters. Credits to Kaya but they are not on our level yet.”
Despite them needing to turn things around with about 20 minutes remaining in the match, the two-time PFL Champions asserted their will to win against the opposition and as per Schröcky, put Ceres back to where they belong, the top of the standings.
Tactical rotation vs unfortunate situations
Heading into this game, it seems as though Noel Marcaida’s been looking for that one secret ingredient to defeating Ceres-Negros FC. He managed to use three different formations, with different sets of players in a span of five matches.
Marcaida then, went on to utilize a fool-proof, flexible 4-4-2 against the busmen to give them more options and, possibly, more possession.
Marcaida faced his first hurdle when his on-form guy Eric Giganto went down due to an injury and needed some medical attention. He’s replaced by Arnel Amita who’s found his footing this early in the league.
However, another twist of events for the visiting side as Amita was given his marching orders and Kaya had to see the game out with 10 men. Still, Marcaida’s men just played with it.
“I give credit to my players. With that loss of Nano (Amita), seems like we have 60 minutes of discipline in shape. There were moments that we were able to force them to commit mistakes and to lose their composure,” said by the 38-year-old tactician.
They’ve got the lead on the 52nd minute but the busmen knew that Kaya will relax a bit. And with that being said, Schröck caught Shirmar Felongco sitting too far from his defensive line.
It gave the 32-year-old creative midfielder acres of space to operate on the left flank where the two decisive goals went in for the home side for them to take all three points.
What’s next for the champions?
With the Battle of the Champions now in the books. Both teams will be going on their own conquests this weekend as the two-time defending league champions will square off with bottom-club Philippine Air Force FC who has yet to win their first three points of the season.
On the other hand, Kaya FC-Iloilo will be looking to make it two wins out of two meetings against Stallion Laguna FC to end their tough three-game stretch for this week.
Looking at how both teams will fare against their respective oppositions, Ceres-Negros FC has already asserted their dominances over PAF with their five-nil victory in their first meeting.
Meanwhile, Kaya FC-Iloilo will look for a better way to win against Stallion as their first meeting ended in a slim two-nil win for the Copa Paulino Alcantara title holders.
Both teams will be played on Saturday, July 13, 2019, with Kaya FC-Iloilo vs Stallion Laguna FC kicking off at 3:30 pm inside the Biñan Football Stadium while Ceres-Negros FC vs Philippine Air Force FC is scheduled to kick off at 4:00 PM at the PFF National Training Centre in Carmona, Cavite.
It had everything except clear officiating
Whenever you’re given a match of the highest order, you expect it to be free-flowing, with just the right amount of physicality and emotions but this match did not live up to its billing, officiating-wise.
There were a lot of missed calls since the opening salvo, for example, the missed handball against Kaya’s Jordan Mintah on the 18th minute and Sean Kane’s shirt-tugging on Amita on the 25th minute.
The referee might’ve gotten the red card on Amita as a rightful punishment for him after a late tackle on Porteria, thanks to the help provided by the fourth official who saw the action unravel right in front of him.
Aside from poorly-decided calls, the referees didn’t seem to have full control of the match.
“Supposedly, ‘yung game could’ve been an exciting, entertaining and nice to watch from the view of the spectators. But how the game goes, from the start to finish, I think, is a crazy game,” said Marcaida.
He added by saying, “It could’ve been controlled properly. It could’ve been controlled if early minutes into the game when it comes to officiating, his (the referee) authority could’ve been established but nevertheless, I’ll still have to go back to the drawing board.”
Even Ceres-Negros FC’s head coach Risto Vidakovic was not happy with the way how the referees handled the match.
“For me, it’s a very sad day today because we don’t have referees. Everything is out of control. They never control the game. This is, for me, not serious. Unfortunately, this is not the level we expect,” said Vidakovic
We can feel how both managers thought about the officiating of the match. In these kinds of games, you would really want your best referees to take full control of the match while giving the game a good flow.
More fans, more fun
For the past three years, it has been tough for the Philippines Football League, let alone its participants, to have long-standing crowd support inside and outside of their own locality.
Now that the league has been utilising the facilities provided by the PFF National Training Centre in Carmona, Cavite and the Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna, it makes it quite difficult for some neutral fans to make it to games with such high intensity like this one.
However, they might be having the logistical issue but PFL has made it a possibility to provide exquisite live broadcast of the match through its website pfltv.ph and even on their Facebook page.
Little by little it will bring in the interest of Filipinos to this beautiful sport and someday, despite the travel they have to make, we’ll see the bleachers filled with fans screaming to the top of their lungs for their beloved clubs.
Photos and video Credits to Philippines Football League