By Ivan Geoffrey Gayares (@ivangeoffrey)
Philippine Club Football is back after a long hiatus. Matchday 1 was something of a prelude to Matchday 2, but the former also has a lot to offer adding more interesting plots in the first tournament of club football this year.
Forza FC 1 – 0 Agila MSC FC
Familiarity was a factor in the tightness of this match in a battle of former second division teams. The midfield was congested as both teams grappled for possession which led to very few chances for both. Agila had the upper hand in half chances but both teams struggled to put in the finishing to get the edge in the first half.
The second half was pretty much the same except for the own goal by Agila which could easily have been avoided. Credit to Forza for forcing a winner with their persistence but they still have a lot to work on in order to get a higher seed by the end of the group stage.
Pasargad FC 0 – 7 Global FC
A hastily formed team versus a toughened Division One contender is nothing but a death sentence and the first blow came just after a few minutes. An unmarked Izzo Elhabib had the luxury of time to slot home the opener. Global was relentless, scoring three more goals to end the half with a 4-0 scoreline.
The result was already undisputed which allowed both teams to show off their creativity. Global showed tremendous team work which led to three more goals while Pasargad’s bright spot was their diminutive striker Jangobah Johnson who ran around the Global midfield and at one time nutmegged Misagh Bahadoran.
Global’s new signing Omid Nazari was a revelation. Scoring a hat trick in his debut makes him the incumbent top scorer in the Cup, all of which is additional to his passing and great awareness up front. His performance came as a pleasant surprise as he was reported to have missed most of Global’s training camp in Baguio after succumbing to food poisoning.
The rest of Global were their usual selves playing their own brand of football leading to Hikaru Minigeshi’s brace and a goal from defender Dennis Villanueva. Global has shown their quality even without the injured Mark Hartmann and new signing Milan Nikolic who served a suspension carried over from his previous game at his old club. The Leigh Manson-mentored squad has yet to face quality opposition but this win have put them as one of the clear favorites to win the Cup.
JP Voltes FC 3 – 0 Laos FC
Everyone thought that match would be even until JP Voltes proved otherwise. The retooled newly-promoted squad surprised everyone with their consistency in defense and discipline in attack to complete a convincing win against the recent Second Division League champions.
Laos FC, who stuck with their core, were the slight favorites coming into the match but the addition of experienced players to JP Voltes from Global, Ceres, and Pachanga-Diliman added a new flavor to the team.
Their best player though was mainstay Takashi Odawara who scored the opener with a beautiful volley from the corner and provided the assist to William (Gueridon) Espinosa’s goal. The Japanese player was instrumental in setting up the attack and picking out the gaps in Laos’ defense. The match was pretty even in the middle but the JP Voltes defense shone especially with their new centerbacks Masaki Yanagawa and Camelo Tacusalme.
It was a disappointing start for Laos who mostly had good build up sequences only to fail at their finishing and who were ultimately punished for gaps in their defense.