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)