UNO-R upsets Ateneo, Sagay FC barges to Sagay Open Final

University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R) headlined the upsets Matchday 4 as they beat Ateneo de Manila 2-1 in the final day of eliminations of the 2nd Sagay Men’s Open in Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

Ateneo came in as favorites in the match as the second seed while UNO-R was already out of contention by being fifth in the six-team tournament. Goals from Prince Robles and Eric Mauring made the difference while Jeremiah scored the lone goal for the UAAP Champions.

The loss came as a surprise to many as the Blue Eagles played very well the previous day coming from 3-1 down versus University of St. La Salle (USLS) to almost win the game but settled for a draw in the end.

Villa Angela FC pulled a surprise of their own by beating USLS 2-1 after a winner from Jaime Poderoso allowed the Bacolod squad to edge the league leaders twelve minutes from time. Poderoso also completed a brace of his own with the winning goal.

The win by Recoletos allowed the Sagay-Northern Negros Selection to leapfrog to second place after beating the Negros selection 3-0 and setup the final with USLS.

Villa Angela will face Ateneo in the third place match at 830AM at the Sagay City National High School Football Field. The championship match is set at 2pm in the same venue where the UNIGAMES champion will face the home team.

The tournament is running in its second year and has been growing with the full support of Sagay City Mayor Thirdy Maranon.

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.

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. 

[April Fools] Philippine Football League delayed to 2018

The upcoming Philippine Football League will be delayed to January 2018 according to a source in the Philippines Football Federation. The league was slated to start this April but was moved because of a major issue.

“We encountered a roadblock for the opening match,” said an anonymous source inside the federation. “We want to make this a very good opening for the league but met an unexpected challenge along the way,” the source added.

An interview with the interested teams also welcomed the delay of the league. “We cant move forward unless this problem is resolved,” said a team manager who requests for anonymity. “I mean we love the sport and we play football week in and week out and we but the federation needs to resolve the issue first before we start the league,” the team manager added.

Unconfirmed reports say that the Federation was planning an opening show in the grandest scale with song and dance numbers from top Filipino celebrities and international artists prior to the opening match. The opening however hit a snag when two teams fought over Lisa Soberano as the team muse in opening day. The issue is largely blamed to the actress’ manager whose a verbal commitment was secured by one team, but offered Lisa to another after cash was offered on the spot.

“It’s very ugly. I’m not talking about Lisa, I’m talking about situation” said the Philippines Football Federation source. “The teams have gone to court and hopefully it will be resolved on time for the opening. I hope it doesn’t reach the Supreme Court. Lisa is a very very beautiful actress and we want her to be in our opening day”. The actress nor the manager could not be reached for comment.

The Philippine Football League is not related to the Philippines Football League of the Philippine Football Federation. The Philippines Football Federation is a federation of American Football enthusiasts in the Philippines and must not be confused with the Philippine Football Federation that is involved with Soccer.

 

 

Azkals vs Harimau: A tale of contrasting fortunes

The Philippine Azkals and Harimau Malaysia are set to square off for a friendly on March 22 in preparation for the 2019 Asian Cup qualifying with both teams coming into the match with contrasting fortunes.

Some luck for the Philippines

It’s no secret that Philippine club football is in a temporary hiatus, with the Philippine Football Federation leadership preparing for its forthcoming National League, putting the domestic game to a halt. The Azkals are lucky however because a good portion of its core players are participating in the AFC Cup for Ceres-Negros and Global removing doubts on fitness issues brought about by the extended break. Both clubs have been playing at a high level regularly since February and players from these clubs are expected to be favorites in the starting eleven.

It also helps that some players are coming in from abroad where fitness and timing is not an issue. Neil Etheridge and Daisuke Sato are coming in from Europe where the football season is at its peak. Javier Patino and Mike Ott are also coming in from China and Thailand whose leagues have already commenced. The rest of the local players will have some catching up to do on their local counterparts. Loyola’s James and Phil Younghusband, Kaya’s Kenshiro Daniels, and Stallion’s Fitch Arboleda have

Issues for Malaysia

The Malaysians however have a different story with domestic and International issues putting preparations for the Asian Cup qualifying on-hold. The Football Association of Malaysia will hold a major election which will include the presidency of Malaysia’s football governing body. A win by favorite Tunku Sultan Ismail, owner of Malaysian powerhouse Johor Darul Ta’zim, could mean a big change for the national squad.

Reports say that current Malaysia Coach Ong Kim Swee could be on his way out with the possibility of a former JDT Coach coming in to manage the squad. Many of JDTs stars have prematurely retired from international football in 2016, following complaints on training methods, but the retirements were largely viewed as political move from the Johorian club in protest of the current FAM administration. Their return and the coaching change could be a big boost for Malaysian football but will somewhat peg the national team back to square one in terms of preparation.

The recent diplomatic tensions between Malaysia and North Korea have forced the Malaysian government to ban the Malaysian squad from playing their March 28 match in Pyongyang. The banhas forced the AFC to move the match to a neutral venue with the date set back to June 8.

What’s at stake

For the Philippines, cohesion leading into next weeks opening match with Nepal is the target for home squad. The schedule between the international break and the AFC Cup has been tight leaving the players with less time to rest and prepare against Malaysia. With players dishing out good performances in the regional stage, the Azkals would be fighting for their place in the starting eleven.

For Malaysia, the current team is determined to get a win for their Coach who has been a true professional in dealing with the current issues and is still grieving with a loss in his family. The match will also serve as an audition of the current squad should changes occur in the new FAM administration.

The recent use of FIFA rankings as a seeding tool in World Cup and Asian Cup qualifying by the AFC would also mean that Asian teams could no longer take International friendlies for granted. A win is necessary as a it could spell the difference in the qualifying draws for future tournaments.

Both teams last played to two 0-0 draws in 2014 with matches held in Selayang and Cebu. The two matches also served as debuts for Thomas Dooley and Ong Kim Swee as coaches of their respective teams.

The match will be played on Wednesday (Mar 22) with kickoff scheduled at 730PM. There will be no local tv coverage but a livestream will be made available at the PFF website.

Azkals vs Maldives: Match Assessment

The Philippine Azkals beat a young Maldivian side 2-0 last Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.  The match comes as a tuneup before they face top ranked Uzbekistan and it gave the Azkals a chance to try new things before the big game.  Here is The Perfect Pass’ assessment of the Azkals performance.

   
Goalkeeping

Its no surprise that Neil Etheridge is the starter for the Maldives friendly. The Walsall shotstopper was the default choice after starting the first two games of qualifying.

Though the Maldives only had a few chances, Etheridge held his own saving three dangerous balls and once charged out the box to clear a possible one-on-one.  Having four keepers in the lineup is a bonus with Roland Muller, Patrick Deyto, and Jun Badelic in reserve.

Defense

Daisuke Sato, Jerry Lucena, and Amani Aguinaldo started in the same order at the back for the Azkals but the combination didn’t last long. Lucena and Aguinaldo eventually switched to their more natural positions.  The defense was modest with Aguinaldo cleaning up with Sato and Jerry were playing by their usual.

At the half, Sato was subbed out with Ingreso moving to his spot. Kenshiro Daniels also came later in the half to replace Lucena.  The young backline was initially nervy which led to a counter attack by the Maldives but the play was closed out well.

Ingreso played very decent at the back showing composure and vision beyond his years and adding another possible defender to the fold.  Daniels didn’t last long in defense as he was switched with Dennis Villanueva who proved his defensive skills at the last quarter of the match.

 
Midfield

Stephan Palla, Kevin Ingresso, Phil Younghusband, and Stephan Shrock made up the attacking midfield of the Azkals.  The combination struggled in the first half because of lack of familiarity, but flashes of brilliance were evident when linking up with the forwards.

Palla, who just flew In the day before, had an average outing linking up well with Ingresso and Iain Ramsey in some ocassions.  Ingresso took on the attacking midfield role in front of Younghusband who took on the holding role.  It took a while for both center mids to adjust as the Maldivian defense was solid in the middle. 

The combination which was replaced in the end wit Paolo Bugas, OJ Porteria, Paul Mulders, and Dennis Villanueva (swapped with Daniels) was a more entertaining bunch showing more fluid passing and familiarity from the UFL.  Bugas showed great defensive awareness while Porteria showed his capacity to spark the Azkals attack.  The untested combination showed that there is a threat even with the most unlikely combination.

Forwards

The forward trio of Iain Ramsey, Patrick Reichelt, and Misagh Bahadoran started for the Philippine squad.  All three were effective but the defensive orientation made it challenging for the three. It took some time for chances to materialize as changes in the midfield affected fluidity in the attack.

Bahadoran was subbed off and Shrock moved up in his place.  The move rekindled the connection between old teammates which led to  more dangerous opportunities. Javier Patiño played in the final fifteen to and with him came some good shots on goal.

Overall

Though the goals did not come from the forwards, the persistence of the team bore fruit with the Maldives’ own goal and Lucena’s header.  The opportunity to play most of the team was good as it allowed the coaching staff to asses combinations available in case of suspensions and injuries.  Though the Maldives may have gained more from this match, the Azkals may have just learned enough in order to be successful in the next big games against Uzbekistan and North Korea.