PFL Week 11: a new leader and the new efficiency ranking

New week, new leader, and a new type of ranking. Though hit with TV issues, the Philippines Football League still continues to bring quality football nationwide with a third of the season already completed.

Stallion Laguna scored two consecutive wins against a former number one in JPV Marikina and jumping to sixth place, swapping with the Davao Aguilas who are currently amassing weapons for a push to the top four in the coming months. Ilocos United are still in the bottom but are seeing improvements in their results.

JPV Markina has stumbled in their past two outings with Stallion keeping them at the number five spot. Global Cebu has dropped in the standings after drawing with Meralco Manila in weekend action. Ceres-Negros continued its winning ways in Panaad and finally jumped to third, over their Visayan rival after scoring a win over Davao.

The main story this week is Kaya’s meteoric rise to top spot with the Makati side leapfrogging over Manila with consecutive wins against Ilocos. Kaya has been the hottest team so far in the last few weeks but club has played more games than its nearest competitors making its number one ranking temporary.

Since all the teams have already met in the league and the table does not fully paint a better picture, The Perfect Pass introduces the PFL Efficiency rankings.

The ranking is very simple. Divide the number of points by the number of matches and you will get the efficiency for each team. It does not only give a true ranking but it also gives the relative strength of the teams when matched against each other. Third place Ceres-Negros is the most efficient team so far, slightly edging Meralco Manila as the best teams in acquiring points in the PFL.

PFL Week 9 Rankings

The Philippines Football League has gained some finally gained some traction after nine weeks of football. Though the all the teams have not played each other yet, a clear pattern for teams have been established and will fully pan out once the month of July ends. Here’s some quick analysis on the action so far:

#1 Meralco Manila

The capital squad has regained the top spot after continuing its unbeaten run after a James Younghusband goal that edged them over erstwhile top seed JPV Marikina. Unbeaten records are a good measure of a team’s overall character, character that will be tested week in and week out from hereon.

#2 Global Cebu

Wins over Ceres and Stallion at home have pushed the title favorites back in second spot. Global has shown in resiliency in big matches and are eager to showcase it in front of their adoring fans in Cebu.

#3 JPV Marikina

JPV has had an unlucky spell the past few days after having their match from previous week called off, aside from losing topscorer Takumi Uesato and scoring an own goal against Loyola. The Marikina squad dropped to third place but a favorable schedule ahead should keep things in order.

#4 Kaya FC-Makati

A three-game unbeaten run has put Kaya back as one of the top contenders after falling short against Ceres Negros. The Makati squad has somewhat regained some momentum after almost winning against Global and everyone in their way must watch out.

#5 Ceres-Negros

The other title favorite has flexed its muscles after losing midweek against fierce rivals Global in Cebu. The Negros squad came back to winning ways after winning with the biggest margin in the PFL so far with seven goals. Ceres will be looking forward to win all their games before their AFC Cup meeting with Home United.

#6 Davao Aguilas

The Southern squad had a golden chance to separate themselves from the other bottom teams but a Jason Cordova red card saw momentum swinging back to visitors Kaya, allowing them to take the full three points. Cordova has been given 2 reds this season and has affected three games so far with another coming up against Global. The Davao skipper should rethink his approach in the game as it has proven costly in the Aguilas maiden campaign.

Stallion Laguna

Stallion has been on a four-game skid after almost winning against league leaders Meralco two weeks prior. The Laguna squad have to rethink their strategy and maybe tap new players in the upcoming window to save the season.

Ilocos United

The Northern squad is in a quagmire after losing top players from their usual starting eleven. The transfer window might be of help to the debutantes as a lack of healthy players has been an issue in the past few weeks.

 

NOFA and Negros Occidental to launch NegrosFirst DFL Mens Open

The Negros Occidental Football Association together with the Provincial government of Negros Occidental will launch the NegrosFirst DFL Mens Open Provincial Championships on July.

According to NOFA General Secretary Ronald Allan Treyes, the provincial league will feature a possible twenty-four teams from across Negros Occidental and Bacolod City. Northern teams will be represented by six different cities such as Cadiz, Victorias, Escalante, Sagay and San Carlos. Bacolod will be bannered by CGM, Villa Angela FC, and will include six other teams. Bago, Himamaylan, Pontevedra, and Kabankalan will spearhead the south that will consist of eight squads.

The Championship will feature a unique format where the elimination will be held in different cities for the north and south divisions . The north division can have matches in the Sagay pitch one week and San Carlos in another while the south can have Bago, Kabankalan, and many others alternately. The Bacolod elimination will be played in either the North or the Santa Maria field.

The quarterfinals will see eight teams with the three of each from the north and south elimination with two coming from Bacolod eimination. The quarterfinals will be held in  cities/LGUs who have a good crowd and have shown good hosting capabilty in the eliminations. The winners of the one-game quarterfinal will feature in a two-legged home-and-away semi-final, a first in Philippine club football. The final will be played in either the Panaad Stadium or in the best host city in August.

Villa Angela FC in last year’s tournament

“We’re trying to achieve the objective of President Ricky (Yanson) and Governor (Freddy) Marañon to promote football in our province. Of course for our youth, that they can see what they can be in the future and see the importance of their grassroots training,” added Treyes.

The tournament will effectively spread club football to the other cities and municipalities with Ceres-Negros only playing in the capital. “We want to spread the game in other areas, especially those who can’t watch the AFC and PFL games in Bacolod. At least they have a chance to witness good football with this tournament,” added the NOFA Gen Sec.

Opening ceremonies will be held on July 1st in Bacolod and Pontevedra for the City and South divisions with the North Division opening on a later date. Football action will start on July 2 with the first match in the Bacolod division.

Yokohama kicks off Football Cup

Yokohama Tire Sales Philippines, Inc. (YTSP) kicked off the Yokohama Football Cup last May 20 at the McKinley Hill Football Stadium in Taguig City. The Japanese tire brand extends its support to the local football scene with the two-day event that featured over a hundred teams of ten different age groups.

Yokohama has been the shirt sponsor for Chelsea Football Club the past two seasons with the north London club clinching the English Premier League title this 2016/2017 season.

Participating teams played a 7-a-side format with the age groups set on different schedules throughout the weekend. The 8 & 12-under teams opened the festivities Saturday morning with the Womens category closing the tournament on Sunday.

The only tire brand that produces its products in the country is looking to help Philippine football in their own way. “We are trying to somehow push more awareness for football in the Philippines” said Shawn Pamintuan, Marketing head of YTSP. “From this year and to the next few years, we would like to concentrate our efforts in supporting the football events in the Philippines,” Pamintuan added.

YTSP President Satoshi Hariyama highlighted the similar values in sports and in his company. “Sports have always been close to the heart of Yokohama. The effort and discipline that athletes put in to improve their skills can be likened to exacting dedication of Yokohama in consistently producing quality tires. We hope to highlight this similarity in supporting football in the Philippines.”

The event organized by CAN Sports saw at least a thousand spectators in opening day. Aside from the football, participants were also treated to mini-games in between their breaks. The same crowd is expected on the second day for the last day of the tournament.

Is there parity in the PFL?

The Philippines Football League is set to start on May the 6th with its curtain raiser in thKaya-Ceres match at the University of Makati Stadium. With the existence of supposed ‘super’ teams in the league, the average filipino football fans asks: Is there parity in the PFL?

If we look at pre-season friendlies and training matches, no PFL team has come out unbeaten. Global and Ceres have been beaten by Stallion. JP Voltes has made easy work of Ceres. Loyola beat Ilocos but the northern squad has also beat Stallion who also beat the Meralco-backed squad. The results seem to be promising but do these practice games really tell the big picture?

Typical practice game sessions consists of two thirty-minute sessions with another twenty-minute one to complete the match. Clubs can play whatever combination they like in those periods and are usually not required to play the first team. There was one instance when Loyola played a team full of tryout attendees where one period saw Loyola fielding in a foreign eleven and a filipino eleven in another. Practice game sessions are usually used to test players and experiment on combinations that a club can use.

Pre-Season tournaments carry more weight as teams are exposed into a real match scenarios. The Stallion invitational early in the year was a good way for the clubs to gauge their teams performance in a competition environment. The hosts came out as winners of the pocket tournament which they won in extra time against a toughened Meralco squad. The win catapulted Stallion as contenders in the league but it also showed that that other teams can really catch up especially Loyola who they have played tough matches and Ilocos who have beaten Stallion in a separate match.

So what about these ‘heavyweights’? Ceres has announced the signing of Stephan Schröck this week. The Bacolod giants add another piece to what is deemed a very deep lineup where some online football fans regard the move as ‘overkill’. Global was deemed to have won the foreign player lottery with quality signings that compliment a strong first eleven. The added combiantion of Wesley dos Santos, Shu Sasaki, and Darryl Roberts have been instrumental in bringing them to first place in their AFC Cup group.

These clubs have achieved some improbable wins against regional heavyweights in the AFC Cup. Global has beaten Johor Darul Ta’zaim while Ceres has dumped Hanoi FC in their home matches. What our AFC Cup representatives have done has been nothing short of a miracle.

So does this mean the other teams are short changed given Ceres and Global’s AFC Cup success? I don’t think it is the case. The rest of the teams have the upper hand in scouting the ‘favorites’ and at this point already know how to beat them.

Last year’s United Football League had its fair share of title-changing results. Green Archers United put then Ceres-La Salle on its knees while JP Voltes brought Global down to earth with big wins. The win by the Archers altered the title chase gifting Global with a cushion comfortable enough for them to seal the 2016 UFL title. This year is no different.

So is there parity in the PFL? I would say yes. With all the teams consolidating this year together with the unpredictability of pre-season results, we can safely say that were up for a surprise in this inaugural season. 

New kit, players for Meralco Sparks

Meralco unveiled its new kit and and introduced their new players for the 2017 Philippines Football League season.
The club in partnership with Master Sports (official Mizuno distributor in the country) showcased their orange and black shirts together with a white third kit. The event also inked the partnership with the Kit provider who will provide match, training, and travel gear for the team.

The club’s new players were also unveiled from transferees, foreign players, and new local signings. The new foreign players include defender Milan Nikolic (formerly of Global) and defensive midfielder Lee Jong Min. Transferees Alvin Sarmiento (Green Archers), Jean De Los Reyes (Pasargad), and Jim Ashley Flores (Stallion) have joined.

L-R: Tyler Matas, Ashley Flores, Neil Dorimon, Jean De Los Reyes, James Hall, Lee Jong Min, Alvin Sarmiento, Conner Tacagni, and Edien Velizano)

Greenhorns from the collegiate ranks have also made the team. San Beda’s Connor Tacagni and Neil Dorimon together with Benilde’s Edienzel Velizano have made it to the squad. They will also be joined by foreign based pinoys in James Hall and Tyler Matas.

Specials guests in the event were the Philippine Marine Corps – Football For Peace Foundation led by Rookie Nagtalon who have been in partnership with the Sparks in the last five years. Midfielder Simon Greatwich bared his experience with the foundation a few weeks ago when he traveled to conflicted areas in Southern Mindanao to teach kids football as well as transferring knowledge to coaches.

The Sparks will have their PFL debut on May the 7th when they face Stallion Laguna in Binan. A separate launch for the change in club name and crest is in the works.

Some talking points before the Philippines Football League launch

The Philippines Football League (PFL) is set for a grand launch on April 21 for what is deemed to be the first professional league for football in the country. Here are some key talking points of the upcoming league prior to its launch.

What is the PFL?

For the benefit of readers outside of Philippine Football, the PFL is a professional football league in the Philippines that will be considered the highest level of mens football competition in the country. The league will see eight participating football clubs from all over the Philippines namely: Ilocos United, JPV Marikina, Kaya FC – Makati, Loyola Meralco Sparks, Stallion Laguna, Global Cebu, Ceres-Negros, and Davao Aguilas.

The eight teams will play a double-round home and away fixture that will see teams play 28 games each where they will play each other four times. The top four teams will will feature in what is called the Final Series where they will compete in home-and-away semifinal legs with the semifinal winners playing in a one game Grand Final. The league will also serve as a qualifier for the Philippines in the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup.

League details? What details?

Fans and the media alike have been in the dark with regard to the specifics of the league. High level information has been provided by PFF leadership regarding the participating teams, competition format, and official tv partner but basic things like the league logo, an initial fixture list, and official media platforms such as a website and facebook page were not made available in advance. Many superfans have resorted to creating their own support pages to generate discussion and even content to hype up the league.

A ‘Philippines Football League – PFL’ page exists but it seems to be made by a fan. I tried to create facebook pages under the Entertainment > Sports League category with the names of ‘Philippines Football League’ and ‘PFL’ and was successful. Also tried to create a duplicate PBA page under the same category but was not allowed to by the platform. My little experiment may not prove much but these little details or lack thereof may be telling. I’ll hold on to the facebook pages temporarily for safekeeping. In the case of match fixtures, they can be delayed given that a deal for broadcast has only been made recently and picking games for broadcast is known to be a difficult exercise. The mention of a logo being included in the launch gives everyone hope that most of the basics would be available come Friday.

The teams are ready to play

The only thing that is assured of in the league from the surface is that all the participating teams are ready to play. Global, Ceres, and Stallion started their pre-season early with the first two teams competing in continental competition. Stallion meanwhile has been the busiest with pre-season matches as early as January, a team and stadium launch, and an invitational tournament that was joined by most teams. Former United Football League teams like JP Voltes, Loyola, and Kaya have ramped up their preparation and tune-up games in the last few months to keep in step of the first three. The two debutantes in Davao Aguilas and Ilocos United seemed to have finalized their pool of players with Ilocos getting more familiar names and Davao doing a training camp with their young core in Singapore.

The teams have also secured their home stadiums, a task that is a feat in itself considering that most of the infrastructure is owned mostly by city and provincial governments. Securing the stadium is only half the problem as the improvements to the infrastructure and most importantly the field of play are necessary. The Marikina Sports Stadium pitch for example needs some improvement as a recent photo showed some areas of dryness and overuse. Most stadiums might also need to meet the minimum security criteria with the exception of Panaad and Rizal Memorial which has already passed stringent AFC standards.

What do we expect from the launch?

The official invite of the event describes it as the ‘Official Launch and Draw Ceremony’ of the Philippines Football League. The launch component is expected to provide all the finer details in the league and hopefully answers to the different details mentioned previously. Official league sponsors may also be present in the launch to promote the partnerships who will help bring the league forward.

What has not been mentioned though is the purpose of the draw ceremony. My best guess is that the draw will be the final step to fill-in an already made first round schedule and replace Team Numbers with actual club names. The opening match might be determined by this exercise.

Photo from the United Football League Philippines