AFC Cup Preview: JDT v Global, Ceres v Felda

Its Philippines versus Malaysia this week in the 2017 AFC Cup and nothing but fireworks are expected in both ties. Johor Darul Ta’zim will host Global Cebu in Johor on March 14 while Ceres-Negros will face FELDA United in Bacolod the day after.

JDT v Global

Malaysia Super League Champions Johor Darul Ta’zim will meet United Football League Champions Global Cebu FC in a Group F tie on Tuesday. It will be the first meeting of both squads in AFC competition with the top spot for Group F will be at stake. Global is still perfect after two matches highlighted by their recent 2-0 win against Boeung Ket Ankor in Phnom Penh. JDT played its reserve unit in match day 2 and settled for a 1-1 draw with ten men against Magwe in Yangon and the Malaysian champions are out to recoup lost points in this tight race to the top.

With JDT expected to bring out its best eleven, interesting individual battles will be seen throughout the match. Philippine International Misagh Bahadoran and Trinidadian Darryl Roberts and will have to deal with the defensive partnership of Malaysia’s Junior Eldstal and Brazilian Marcos Antonio. Former Azkal Paul Mulders will be pitted against former Malaysia Captain Safiq Rahim in a key battle in midfield. Global’s Amani Aguinaldo and Brazilian Wesley dos Santos will have a tough task ahead against Hazwan Bakri and Argentinian Gabriel Guerra.

JDT last played a Philippine squad in Kaya FC with a 7-2 trashing at Larkin stadium in the Round of 16 of the 2016 AFC Cup. Global is keen to improve its record in the AFC Cup against Malaysian teams after getting double 0-0 draws against Pahang in the 2015 edition. Though pundits have marked JDT as the favorites in this match, Global is keen for an upset in front of the Johor fans. The match will kickoff at 845pm in Johor.

Ceres vs Felda

Ceres-Negros FC will host Felda United in Match Day 3 of Group G in the AFC Cup. Ceres has just come-off from a 5-0 win against Tampines Rovers which elevated them into first spot in the group. Felda almost came off with its first win against Hanoi at the Shah Alam stadium but the Vietnamese squad came up with a last minute goal for the 1-1draw. Both squads qualified for the group stages of the tournament after placing second in their respective leagues last year.

Ceres has had a history of tough matches against Malaysian clubs especially against Selangor in last year’s AFC Cup. Their opening match in Bacolod saw Selangor scoring first with a brilliant free kick from Hafiz Kamal until Ceres equalized late with a Stephan Schrock strike. Both teams played the second leg in the Selayang Municipal Stadium where Ceres forced a 0-0 draw which consequently allowed them to qualify for the Round of Sixteen of the 2016 AFC Cup.

The tie will feature a new challenge for both squads in all areas of the pitch. Fernando Ceres’ Spaniards Rodriguez and Bienvenido Maranon will slug it out with central defenders in Lebanese Mootaz Jounaidi and Malaysian legend Shukor Adan. Manny Ott will have to deal with Scottish-Malaysian defensive midfielder Stuart Wark in the midfield. Argentinean striker Lucas Cano and Liberian Zah Krangar will be a handful for Carli de Murga and Super Herrera.

The Bacolod squad will gun for a second straight victory but the visitors are fully aware that a win is the only way for them to reach the next round of the tournament. A capacity crowd is again expected at the Panaad Stadium to support the home team. The match will be aired at 7PM on Wednesday.

Photos from AFC Cup/Lagardere Sports

Hanoi FC Scouting Report

 

Photo from Hanoi FC Facebook Page

The club formerly known as Hanoi T&T has been one of the most dominant clubs in Vietnamese football, finishing no less than second for the last seven years in the top flight, winning it three times. Hanoi qualified to the AFC Cup as the 2016 champions of V.League 1 which also allowed them to participate in the preliminary rounds of the AFC Champions League (ACL). The club been participating in the ACL preliminaries and playoff the past few years but has always fell short of the group stage when facing tougher opposition in the final playoff match.

Vietnamese clubs have never dropped back to the AFC Cup after near misses in the ACL because of its higher ranking. It was only till this year when Hong Kong overtook Vietnam in the seeding which allowed the Vietnamese clubs to participate in the group stages of the AFC Cup.

The Hanoi club got a taste of Asian football when it met Kitchee in the preliminaries of the ACL last January. Hanoi FC was leading 1-0 ten minutes from time but Kitchee got back to force a win in extra time. The 2016 V.League 1 champions are currently third in the domestic table, just two points behind erstwhile Than Hoa, after being nicked by SHB Da Nang for a draw in their last match.

Players to Watch

Foreign Players
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) employs a 3+1 foreign player rule where 3 Non-Asians and 1 Asian player can be included in the line-up of different clubs. This allows the development of local talent within the country and the continent.
#77 Alvaro Silva (Defender)
The Filipino-Spanish centerback has been in Asia for the last three seasons with stints in Kuwait and Korea before moving to Hanoi this season. Silva has played for the Azkals for a couple of games and has not returned since. The defender is tall and agile but chemistry with his new team is still an issue.

#20 Gonzalo Marronkle (Forward)
The Argentinean striker has been with Hanoi since 2009 and has figured in all of its recent success. This 32-year old is known for his goal scoring ability, aside from his height (1.92m), and is a threat from anywhere in the box.

#99 Loris Arnaud (Forward)
The French striker is a product of the PSG academy and has been a journeyman around France for the last few years. He is the third choice striker behind Gonzalo and Samson in Hanoi.

#8 Moses Oloya (Midfielder)
The Ugandan midfielder moved to Vietnam six years ago as a teenager and has since played in the country for five years and getting a stint in Russia in 2016. Now 24 years old, Oloya has signed for Hanoi and has been fighting for a slot in a very talented pool of midfielders. He is a versatile midfielder that can do both holding and attacking positions.

Local Players
#10 Nquyen Van Quyet (Forward)
One of the most recognizable faces in Vietnamese football, Van Quyet is a mainstay of the National Team being one of the most talented attacking players in the country. He can play as a striker, winger, and attacking midfielder with a preference to the right side of the pitch. Still young at 25, this player is the perfect complement for Hanoi’s foreign born strikers.

#7 Pham Thanh Luong (Midfield)
Do not underestimate him for his size (1.61m), Than Luong has already helped his country win the AFF Cup at the tender age of 20 with his pace and lethal finishing. Now 28, the Vietnam national team veteran is still a thorn in the left side of the midfield because of his unpredictability and knack on goal.
#19 Nguyen Quang Hai (Midfielder)
Nguyen Quang Hai is the future of Vietnamese football. At 19 years of age, he has shown the quality of being a versatile attacker and a very intelligent footballer. He is deployed on the left flank to make use of his preferred left foot.

#36 Hoang Vu Samson (Forward)
The Nigerian-born player acquired his Vietnamese citizenship in 2013 which allows him to play as a local for Hanoi. Initially playing as a striker, Samson is flexible enough to play in the midfield in this loaded Hanoi attack. He has won scoring titles in V.League 1 and has the highest scoring percentage in the league in the last few years. He is tall, strong, fast, and has a very high rating in scoring awareness.

Possible Formation & First XI

hanoi-fc

Strengths
Deep pool of players with low average age
Quality local players (National, U23, U19)
Familiarity of foreign attacking players (>5 years)

Weaknesses
New foreign center back (Alvaro)
Poor run of form (Loss-Draw-Draw)

Opportunities
Overconfidence by Coaching Staff as seen on Champions League

Threats
Hanoi players in shape (7 games played)
Bad results means AFC Cup game is a must win
Cold Temperature in Hanoi

Tactics

The Hanoi Coach will bring in his best 11 in response to the AFC Champions League defeat where he tried to use more young players in the match. He might not play the French striker (Arnaud) because of poor form and the presence of Gonzalo. The 20-year old player Duy Manh will be chosen over Moses in the defensive midfield as he is considered as one of Vietnam’s best at his tender age.

Hanoi plays 4-1-4-1 defensively but somehow transitions to a flexible 4-3-3 offensively. The left and right midfielders are all interchangeable, Quang Hai 19 and Thanh Luong 11 on the left can switch as winger and attacking mid at any time with each other. Van Quyet 11 and Samson 39 can also interchange with themselves on the right. Expect a lot of creativity and passing in the midfield as and Thanh Luong and Van Quyet are the best players in Vietnam for their position. The veterean players including Samson have the freedom to break formation and attack, Quang Hai is usually the one left behind just because he is the younger player but he is a threat from distance as well.

The back four are very quick and disciplined to a certain limit. Hanoi is very resilient in the first clearances in danger areas but they are still very shaky. Alvaro and Dai Dong still have a lack of understanding that the Ceres attack can score from. They are good in individual defense but the weakness in their partnership is the second ball, especially with Dai Dong. The two wingbacks are young and needs to be tested throughout the match.
Hanoi will be expected to go on an all-out attack because of their highly technical players and deep bench. If the team is not careful, it will be an early 2-0 lead for the hosts given their early start in the season. The visiting team must be precise in their finishing to get a goal as chances will be few.

Squad List
No. Nationality Position Player Age Height National Team others
18 Vietnam GK Trần Anh Đức 25 1.8 –
30 Vietnam GK Nguyễn Văn Công 24 1.82 Vietnam U23
33 Vietnam GK Phí Minh Long 22 1.8 Vietnam
2 Vietnam DF Nguyễn Đại Đồng 30 – –
4 Vietnam DF Nguyễn Văn Dũng 22 1.74 Vietnam U21
5 Vietnam DF Nguyễn Văn Biển 31 1.73 Vietnam
7 Vietnam DF Sầm Ngọc Đức 24 1.7 Vietnam
13 Vietnam DF Trần Văn Kiên 20 – –
15 Vietnam DF Nguyễn Minh Hải 23 – Vietnam U20
16 Vietnam DF Nguyễn Thành Chung 19 – –
17 Vietnam DF Doan Van Hau 19 Vietnam U19
77 Philippines DF Álvaro Silva Linares 32 1.87 Azkals
89 Vietnam DF Đào Duy Khánh 23 1.83 Vietnam U23
6 Vietnam MF Đặng Văn Tới – – –
8 Uganda MF Moses Oloya 24 1.83 Russian League
11 Vietnam MF Phạm Thành Lương 28 1.61 Vietnam left + right
23 Vietnam MF Nguyễn Hải An 28 1.67 –
28 Vietnam MF Đỗ Duy Mạnh 20 1.8 Vietnam
29 Vietnam MF Phạm Đức Huy 22 1.73 Vietnam U23
74 Vietnam MF Trương Văn Thái Quý 19 1.71 Vietnam U19
88 Vietnam MF Đỗ Hùng Dũng – – Vietnam U23
9 Vietnam FW Phạm Văn Thành 22 1.75 Vietnam U21
10 Vietnam FW Nguyen Van Quyet 25 1.72 Vietnam right footed
19 Vietnam FW Nguyễn Quang Hải 19 1.64 Vietnam U23 left footed
20 Argentina FW Gonzalo Marronkle 32 1.92 Portugal League left footed
39 Vietnam FW Hoàng Vũ Samson 28 1.82 * Nigerian right footed
92 Vietnam FW Trịnh Duy Long – – –
98 Vietnam FW Hồ Minh Dĩ – – –
99 France FW Loris Arnaud 29 1.84

Global, Ceres face uphill climb to AFC Cup final

Filipino clubs Global FC and Ceres-Negros FC will have a more challenging path towards the final of Asia’s second-tier club football tournament after recent changes in its competition format.

ceres-global-ufl-cup-2016

The AFC Cup has since deviated from its usual east-west format to a new zonal one which will feature five different zones across Asia namely: West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, ASEAN, and East Asia. West Asia and ASEAN Zones will have three groups while the rest will only have one each.  The new format also allows more teams to join the group stage, with this years competition having 34 teams and possibly stretching it to 36 in the future.

Next round qualification will also be different this year as the tournament will name Zonal winners who will move on to the latter rounds of the competition. With Global and Ceres both in the ASEAN groups, they will have to be the top teams of their group or be the best runner up of the three groups to qualify for the four-team ASEAN Zonal semi final.

The Filipino clubs will need to endure a two-legged zonal semifinal and another two-legged zonal final in order to win the ASEAN Zone, unlike other groups which only need to top the group stage to be declared zone winners. The West Asia Zone, which also has the groups, will also need a zonal semi-final and final but the West Asia winners have the incentive to go straight to the AFC Cup final.
afc-cup-2017-perfect pass

 

If winning the ASEAN Zone will be tough enough for the Pinoy squads, the Inter-Zone playoff will be another tough nut to crack as they will have to face the other well-rested zonal winners who would have played four games less. The Inter-Zone playoffs will entail another level of two-legged semifinal and final matches before the remaining AFC Cup finalist is declared.

For this years tournament, East Asia will have the shortest path to the tournament needing only to get results in 8 games to reach the final as they have only three participants in their group. They are followed by West Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia with 10 games while ASEAN will need to hurdle 14 games before doing so.

The lack of domestic competition will be a big challenge in Ceres and Global’s AFC Cup campaign as top squads from other ASEAN nations are already 5-6 games in their domestic campaigns. With the Philippines Football League still in the works, both teams need to shake their cobwebs fast to match the pace of their opponents. Kaya and Ceres’ good performance in AFC Cup group stages was attributed to both teams playing in the UFL Cup which started a few weeks before the AFC tournament last year.

Nevertheless, both teams will be eager to eclipse the historic round of 16 achievement of 2016. AFC Cup action starts on February 21 with Global facing Myanmar champions Magwe in Rizal Memorial while Ceres will travel to Vietnam to play juggernaut Hanoi FC.

[AFC Cup 2016] Selangor FA: Scouting Report Part 2

Selangor’s most successful club side will be fighting for their AFC Cup lives on Matchday 5 and there’s no better place to do it but at home against Ceres-La Salle. Here is the second part of the scouting report on Malaysia’s Selangor FA.

200px-selangorfalogo-svg

Who’s in? / Who’s Out?

#2 Defender Robert Cornthwaite (IN)

The defender who was injured for matchday one will be a tough nut to crack with his height and vision at the back. Partnering with Captain Sharom Kalam will complete the central defense who has been getting mixed results as of late.

#11 Hazwan Bakri (IN)

Hazwan was unavailable for a good few months for Selangor but the dangerous winger is back to compliment the killer attack on the wings with counterpart Andik Vermansyah.

#21 Hafiz Kamal (OUT)

Hafiz will be suspended on their next AFC Cup with a red card sustained against Sheikh Jamal in matchday 5. His left-footed brilliance from set piece will be missed but their are plenty of options in central midfield available for Selangor.

Selangor FA Scounting report Part One (https://theperfectpass.wordpress.com/2016/02/22/afc-cup-2016-selangor-fa-scouting-report/)


Expected 11 (4-4-2)

Selangor will field their best squad sans midfielder Hafiz Kamal. Patrick Wleh will reprise his number nine role with Mauro Olivi behind him. Indonesian ace Andik Vermansyah will be on the left complimented by returnee Hazwan on the right but both can interchange anytime.  The wingers will be the main catalysts in the attack like before and the return of Hazwan would only make them more dangerous.

S. Veenod is expected replace Hafiz and partner with Nazmi Faiz in the middle.  The veteran might be chosen ahead of Saiful Ridzuwan who started in their last game in the middle. Cornthwaite will retain his centerback position with Sharom with Raimi and Azrif as the wingbacks.  Cornthwaite’s length will add more danger in the Selangor set piece and would be a good deterrent for aerial attacks.

Strategy

Selangor has always been overloading their wings as their primary attack utilizing their speed in most instances.  Andik and Hazwan is expected to most of the work in the match.  The midfield has always been a pivot, dispossessing the opponent and quickly transitioning to quick counter attacks with their speedy wings.  Nazmi Faiz is the tenacious player who’s very aggressive in the middle and the most important player in this match.

2016 UFL Cup Final Preview: Ceres-La Salle FC vs Global FC

Photo from United Football League Philippines (www.uflph.com)

CER: Manny Ott, Sang Min Kim, Louie Michael Casas
GLO: Serge Kaole, Daisuke Sato, Milan Nikolic

Key Match-ups:
Manny Ott v Matt Hartmann
Sang Min Kim v Omid Nazari
Patrick Reichelt v Daisuke Sato
Adrian Gallardo v Milan Nikolic

Suspensions: None

Manny Ott slayed the midfield of Tampines Rovers leaving his counterparts with no choice but to be extra physical with the Azkals midfielder. Sang Min’s consistent play has earned him the captains badge this season. His presence in the middle makes it difficult for opponents to win battles in the air and his length allows him to make impossible tackles. Casas has been on a tear lately, bringing his team to the final with his timely saves.

Kaole is the man of the hour. His performance in the quarterfinals as a a substitute earned him a start and a goal in the semifinals. Sato has been playing his best after his return from Japan, carrying it over to the Global and the Azkals. Nikolic’s composure and presence in the middle has been the reason for Global having the best defense this UFL Cup.

Ceres had a fine performance in the semifinal except for the except for avoidable defensive errors that cost them goals. They have corrected this in the AFC cup where they only conceded a goal from a pretty wicked deflection. The Bacolod-squad will only be less than four days removed from their AFC Cup tie and their fitness may be in question. They have however pulled off two wins from competitive matches which gives them the momentum in this match-up.

The Leyte FA squad are well rested having ten games off from UFL Cup action and will be favorites if the game extends to more than ninety minutes. Their Jekyll and Hyde offense this cup season must come-alive in order to bag the Cup. Global has never conceded more than one goal in this tournament. A key stat that has kept them afloat when their offense have betrayed them in some games.

Advantage: Global FC

2016 UFL Cup Semifinals Preview

Stallion FC vs Global FC

Players to watch:
STA: Jordan Mintah, Balot Doctora, Ref Cuaresma
GLO: Arthur Kouassi, Serge Kaole, Milan Nikolic

Jordan Mintah came to the quarterfinals with a different mindset, a playmaking one.  The Ghanian did have his fair share of shots but his passing proved to be the difference allowing his teammates to score the crucial goals.  Balot Doctora assisted on the opening goal and scored on the second while getting kicked in the face.  The veteran has played well of late but an injury setback might cause his absence in the semis.  Expect greenhorn Jim Flores to take on an expanded load in his absence.  Ref Cuaresma saved his team from extra time in the quarters and he would need to do it again and more against Global.

Arthur Kouassi was the hero for Global, stepping in and scoring when his team needed the most after being a man down because of Omid Nazari’s sending off.  Kouassi will now be tipped to replace Nazari up front in the semis to test the Stallion backline.  Serge Kaole was super sub in the semis, bringing in the right energy to a rather lackluster Global midfield. Milan Nikolic kept the ship afloat with his steady backline presence eliminating most of the threats that came his way.

Stallion is still unbeaten in the tournament and the test against Green Archers was the first of many if they push through and lift the Cup.  Their defense is suspect, allowing two quality goals from Chieffy Caligdong.  Global meanwhile seems to have a split personality, only picking games where they show their best.  Their match against JP Voltes was a sample of that behavior where they struggled at most parts especially at midfield.  Stallion has the the hard-working players in midfield who take advantage and turn this semifinal to their favor.  However, Global has the advantage in this matchup after having a more consistent backline which did not concede even with the disadvantage.

Advantage: Global FC

 

Ceres-La Salle FC vs Kaya FC

Players to watch:
CER: Adrian Gallardo, Manny Ott, Jeffrey Christaens
KAY: Robert Lopez-Mendy, Joven Bedic, Louis Clark

Robert Lopez-Mendy was a man on a mission in the quarterfinals.  Having missed out on AFC Cup action to documentation issues, the Senegalese player had some unlucky misses upfront but his persistence bore fruit in the end with the winning goal. Joven Bedic has been in fine form this year, playing well in the AFC Cup matches and in the domestic tournament.  The homegrown attacker created plenty of chances and also had some of his own against Loyola.  Louis Clark, who is still recovering from a leg injury, soldiered-on and brought his attacking flair in the second half that almost got him on the score-sheet.  His presence alone stretched the Loyola defense allowing Lopez-Mendy space to score the winner.

Adrian Gallardo played a full game against Forza last Sunday, a necessary move after not playing for a whole two weeks.  The Spanish striker had his moments, scoring a goal, but mainly deferred to his teammates the whole game.  Manny Ott was not present in the quarterfinals, but his performance against North Korea is something to gravely considered as he dominated in the middle of the pitch.  Jeffrey Christaens is in inspired form as of late after the birth of his newborn son.  He was all over the place against Forza, scoring the opener and delivering the next two, and is expected to ride the momentum in the remaining games.

Kaya had the gritty display any football fan would ask from his or her team.  The LBC-backed squad was very unlucky on the offense but was fortunate enough to be extremely lucky on the defense.  Ceres didn’t need the same amount of luck as it breezed through their opponents.

Both teams have had a spectacular first-round form in Asian competition and the UFL Cup Semifinal will decide on who is the better Philippine representative for the AFC Cup.  Ceres is well rested and eager to get back at their tormentors in 2015 while Kaya pushed to their team the limit to get a place in the semifinal.  Ceres will have the slight advantage in this matchup having rested most of its players who are injured or were called for national duty.

Advantage: Ceres-La Salle FC

All Photos are courtesy of the United Football League (www.uflph.com)