Using the remaining league matches as a build-up towards their upcoming Copa Paulino Alcantara campaign, Stallion Laguna FC have started what they’re really made of after a 9-1 demolition job against bottom-dwellers Global-Cebu FC at the Biñan Football Stadium.
As early as the first seven minutes of the match, Darwin Regala and Edris Najm found the back of the net before Reynald Villareal fired in their third goal on the 39th minute.
Come the second half, the flood gates have opened thanks to a quick-fire double from Janjan Melliza in a span of five minutes before Fitch Arboleda joined the scoring parade. Melliza would then seal his hat-trick on the 67th minute of the match.
Nathaniel Alquiros also joined the scoring party on the 74th minute and sealed their biggest victory of the season on the 85th minute with his brace.
Paolo Salenga got the visitors their consolation goal on the 85th minute of the match through a gorgeous panenka over the diving Nelson Gasic from the penalty spot.
Now that we’ve got you caught up, let’s look into Tito Jay’s five talking points from this match.
1) Stallion’s starting to get their gears working fine
We’ve seen head coach Ernie Nierras get mad whenever his team doesn’t perform up to his standards and every time that happens, it’s as if a vein will pop right out of his neck.
There’s a reason behind this. Nierras is a man of principle, a man of a system. He simply wants the team to perform and follow his instructions to the letter.
In their last match against Ceres-Negros FC, they were handed a two-nil defeat but it was still something that Nierras had quite a few good things to say about their performance.
“I’m not disappointed with how my team played. They follow instructions, they did well. We had those chances in the first half, unfortunately, luck did not bounce our way,” said Nierras despite the two-nil defeat.
Fast forward to their match against Global-Cebu FC, they continued their style of play and it delivered for them. They maintained most of the possession of the ball and passed it around the park.
Everyone, including their goalkeeper Gasic got a touch of the ball which goes to show how important ball retention is for Nierras’ side.
In this match against the bottom-dwellers, they’ve made the ball work for them. Their side didn’t show any signs of slowing down though there might still be rooms for improvement, it was typically a nice day for Nierras and the rest of Stallion-Laguna FC.
Despite missing out their team captain Ruben Doctora Jr. due to a hamstring injury he got against the Busmen that sidelined him through the rest of the season, a lot of players stepped up for his squad.
Threading to unknown territory, Regala, who’s a natural defender dribbled past the entire Global defence and went on to score the first goal of the match.
Villareal almost did the same on his way to score his goal against Global-Cebu. The biggest story, however, about this match is how Jesus “Janjan” Melliza ran riot past Global-Cebu FC. We’ll talk about that on the next part of this analysis.
2) Janjan is inspired and just went out with a bang
Known as one of the finest gems the country has ever had, Janjan Melliza has been in the spotlights for quite some time now. Started his professional career almost five years ago with the Green Archers United, this former Far Eastern University standout made a lot of noise since he started playing in the big leagues.
Playing his 19th match for the Biñan-based booters, Melliza had only one thing in mind, to improve on his performance this season. After a slow start in the first half, Melliza went out of the gates of the second half and scored his first goal in the match after just a few seconds.
His pace and control gave him another opening in just four minutes from his first goal to score his brace. He then capped off the day with a hat-trick on the 67th minute.
With his hat-trick, he’s slowly catching up to his team captain Fitch Arboleda as he now has seven goals under his name in this season. At this rate of scoring, he might just end up as the highest-scoring locally produced talent in the league.
“May inspirasyon na siya ngayon. Tatay na siya eh. Naiisip na niya siguro lagi yung anak niya kaya inspired si Janjan. (He now have an have inspiration, he’s now a father. He might be thinking more about his kid now that’s why Janjan is inspired), said Nierras regarding his player’s performance who he sees as his own kid as well.
Should he be able to finish the season with such feat, not only it will be a big confidence boost for Melliza but this could make him earn his spot once again with the national team.
The last time he was called up for the Azkals was back in October 2017 when the Philippines faced Yemen in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup third round qualifier and has yet to earn his first international cap.
3) Lacklustre performance from the visitors but quite an inspiring one
It’s as if nothing is about to go right for Global-Cebu FC as they’ve suffered another devastating defeat in the league, this time at the hands of Stallion Laguna FC.
What boggles us the most is that they have the skills, talents, and the players to deliver quite an amazing performance on paper but on the field, the difference is night and day.
As early as the first five minutes of the match, the visiting side has already conceded two goals in quick succession. However, here’s a positive thing we can take away from Global’s game against Stallion.
Despite trailing by four or five goals in the match, they didn’t stop in looking for the goal that could spur them on to get back into contention in the match.
It might’ve been late but when Salenga scored from the spot, it’s as if the last five minutes of the match became the last five minutes of their playing career.
They went all out to get another goal, they continued to pressure the defence from either wing and kept on pushing until there’s no time in the clock.
The club can give us much excuses or reasons as to why they keep on performing poorly in the league but it all boils down to one thing, preparation.
“Obviously, based on the result, frustrated,” said assistant coach Jovannie Villagracia about how he felt after the match. He continued by saying, “Honestly, we didn’t prepare coming into this game.”
“Siguro we have enough players, convince lang natin silang bumalik sa training.”
These statements go to show that no matter how good your players are if they cannot stick together and showcase their skills as a team and not as individuals.
4) Remaining league games serve as a springboard towards the Cup
We already know that the title hopes for Stallion Laguna FC and Global-Cebu FC are now gone to dust but that doesn’t stop these clubs to work hard as the Copa Paulino Alcantara’s drawing near.
Global-Cebu FC has about four games remaining in the league while Stallion Laguna still has six. Ample amount of time for them to get things running and ready for the cup.
All of the coaches in the PFL knows they cannot be composed heading into the Copa Paulino Alcantara as everything resets. It’s up to each and every team on how they will continue their run from the league to the cup.
With the way things are looking for Stallion Laguna FC, they’might just put the very first defeat of the defending champions and eventual 2019 league winners Ceres-Negros FC when they face this Saturday.
On the other hand, Global Cebu FC will go up against the inaugural Copa Paulino Alcantara winners Kaya FC-Iloilo on Sunday and might come up with a surprise or two as they will look to capitalize on the fatigue that Kaya might’ve gotten after their two home games at the Iloilo Sports Complex.
5) The fountain of youth has been opened by Global and Stallion
the future of our sport lies in the clubs that play in this league. Not only does the clubs provide some kind of inspiration to the kids who love to play football.
Global-Cebu FC and Stallion Laguna FC showed they trust the programs we have here in the Philippines specifically with what a very established football academy has to offer.
Yesterday’s match saw four players from the GOM Football Center of Excellence feature in the top-flight football league of the Philippines. These players are Karl Emery from Stallions Laguna FC, Jan Vincent Quintana, Ezekiel Ae and Lance Ocampo from Global-Cebu FC.
It seemed like a reunion match as they met in the field as they showcased their talents they honed with their academy. Emery’s such a gem in the middle of the field for Stallion while Quinatana’s been making some trouble down the right side of the pitch.
On the other hand, Ae’s been stopping all the remaining attacks coming from Laguna while Ocampo’s been threading the middle of the pitch to open things up for their strikers Salenga and Chima Uzoka.
This is a product of a very established academy in the Philippines and one by one, clubs here in the PFL are now starting to benefit from it.
“He has the range, his football IQ is very high. I hope he gets more opportunities in the future with the national team. This kid’s good, you can see it,” said coach Nierras regarding the talent Emery brought to the table against Global Cebu FC.
“Nakita naman siguro na nakikipag-compete agad sa top players. Siyempre matutuwa ka kasi pwede pala. At this level pwede pala natin gawin. Sana mas mabigyan natin ng chances yung mga local players,” said coach Villagracia regarding about how his young players performed against Stallion.
Even both team coaches have agreed about the possibility of these young players to become the core of the future national team who will compete against top countries in the region.
“With all our controversy, with all the complaints, everything that they can say is wrong. We’re very good, regardless of how the national teams’ performing and everything. It’s a work in progress. I’m hoping that the clubs will feature and give opportunities to the young local players,” said Nierras.
“Sure, why not? Nasa top-tier sila. Iba yung experience as a youth player compared dito sa PFL. Siguro ‘eto yung time na ‘di lang tayo umaasa sa Fil-Foreign players kasi advantage na’tin in the future kasi mas madali na natin silang i-call (They are in the top-tier. The experience as a youth player is different as a youth player compared to the PFL. Maybe this is the time that we are not just relying on Fil-Foreign players because this will be our advantage in the future as it’s ieasy to call them up), said Villagracia.
Now that we have a foundation, all we need to do now is to nurture them and expose them more for them to get the experience they need for them to excel more in this sport.