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.

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

The Cavs have a 60% chance of winning this years NBA title

Why?

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1) No Bogut – Bogut has been cleaning up Draymond’s gaps throughout the playoffs. It not the Green hasn’t been playing well, its just that Bogut makes Green’s defensive assignments easier knowing that there’s someone behind covering well for him.

2) Lebron and his final chance – I don’t like Lebron James. Primadonna etc etc. But he knows very well that with Bogut out, he can inflict as much damage as he can and wear Green out. I have always thought that Lebron will not stay after this year and this is his final chance on the title for the Cavs. I’m still convinced that winning the title would be his best (forgivable) exit strategy.

3)The Warriors are tired – The Cavs breezed through the finals but the Warriors had a very difficult time. The extra games took a lot out of them and being in this stretch with a man down is simply too much.

If the Warriors win it, it would come from the coaching staff. Everyone agrees that   Bogut is irreplaceable. But if the coaching staff prepares the team to make it through the fourth quarter on a close match, then its theirs for the taking. If they won’t, then maybe we can watch Episode 9 of the sixth season of Game of Thrones.