After a week of fixtures in the 2019 Philippines Football League that produced a total of sixteen goals, and with six of the seven participating teams seeing action at least once, here is the first edition of the Team of the Week.
With Kaya FC Iloilo able to maintain their perfect start to the season after two matches, and without conceding a goal, it is not surprising that a very big chunk of the Team of the Week lineup is taken by their players.
Also, this could be the only edition that an honorable mention will be included for reasons that cannot be ignored.
Center Forward: Jordan Mintah (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Direct and explosive, Jordan Mintah finally got his lethal form back in front of goal after a lengthy recuperation from a knee injury that he suffered a year ago.
His hat-trick in the opening game against Green Archers United followed by an insurance goal against a hard-fought battle against Stallion Laguna put the Ghanaian forward in joint top spot of the individual goalscoring table with four markers.
Support Striker: Bienve Marañon (Ceres-Negros)
A cunning attacker who mainly operates in and around the box, but can also deliver the goods whether from the run of play or a dead-ball situation Bienve has been one of the main elements of Ceres-Negros’ rise to the top in Philippine football and as one of the best clubs in Southeast Asia.
Now, as the 2019 season begins, the Spanish striker is on a very bright start boosted by a hat-trick during The Busmen’s match against Air Force to add to his first goal in the domestic league off a draw against Stallion for a total of four goals that propels him as one of the top scorers at the moment.
Support Striker: Christian Zubiri (Green Archers United)
Definitely the impact player for this week, Christian Zubiri delivered the goal for Green Archers that proved to be the winner in the match against Global.
With the tie very much in the balance, and the possibility of a lackluster draw or even another disappointing loss looming on the horizon, Christian changed all that with his introduction in the second half, first with an immediate threatening attempt, followed by that pivotal 72nd-minute strike that put the WFL champions on to the winning column.
The fact that Zubiri’s involvement in the match against Global was his first for the Archers’ campaign, the DLSU-alum’s stellar few minutes could provide a good reason for head coach Joel Villarino to put him as a starter in the next fixture.
Left Winger: Curt Dizon (Ceres-Negros)
Although Curt Dizon did not start during Ceres’ league opener against Stallion, the left winger was able to maximize the opportunity given to him as a starter in his club’s second assignment by scoring a brace and delivering an assist during their 5-0 win against Philippine Air Force.
His pace and dynamism while operating mainly on the left flank have been his main strengths which provided The Busmen the needed width that complemented their wing play for goal-scoring chances during the match.
Midfielder: Jovin Bedic (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Club captain Jovin Bedic has been one of the threats and creators for his squad on both of Kaya’s fixtures at the opening week of the PFL.
But, his 25th minute opener from the penalty spot against Stallion proved to be the most crucial as it set the tone in a clash that was anticipated as semthing that could go either way. In the end, his goal proved telling as it helped Kaya towards a monumental 2-0 win to maintain their perfect start to the season.
Midfielder: Darryl Roberts (Kaya FC Iloilo)
One of the main cogs in Kaya FC’s perfect start to the PFL season, Darryl has been instrumental for his club by being a facilitator or an additional threat as an attacking midfielder.
One of his forays into the box against Stallion actually resulted to Jovin Bedic’s penalty kick goal that proved telling towards a hard-fought away win.
Right Midfielder/Winger: Nathan Alquiros (Stallion Laguna)
One of the bright spots in Stallion’s promising squad this 2019 PFL campaign, his work ethic and creativity from the right side of the pitch provided the much needed impetus for his squad.
A man-of-the-match award in that massive draw against defending champions Ceres has been a testament to his qualities. Meanwhile, despite dropping their second assignment at home against Kaya, Alquiros actually produced what could have been an equalizing goal for Stallion if only opposing goalkeeper Michael Casas wasn’t able to pull off a massive intervention.
Defender: Martin Steuble (Ceres-Negros)
Although Ceres-Negros’ defensive qualities might be considered not to be playing at par to their usually lofty standards, Martin Steuble could be considered an exception due to his contributions on the other end.
A steady supplier of promising chances for his club with his deliveries into the box as a wing-back, he’s also an occasional goalscorer in desperate situations, as exemplified with his spectacular 24th minute equalizer against Stallion.
Defender: Masanari Omura (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Kaya’s long-serving sentinel, has always been a stabilizing force at the backline a clean sheet on both against the Green Archers and Stallion are evident of his contributions as a central defender.
But what puts him in this season’s first edition of Team of the Week is his quality assist from deep to Jayson Panhay that led to a goal two minutes shy of the hour mark against Green Archers. Such a moment of quality distribution, plus the fact that he can be an offensive option (and score) in set-piece situations make him one of Kaya’s most important players.
Defender: Tyler Matas (Kaya FC Iloilo)
A defensive machine for Kaya, Tyler Matas’ work ethic and reliability at the back cannot be denied.
But his ability to supply those precise and threatening long throw-ins towards the oppositions’ box for strikers to pounce on, reminiscent of Stoke City FC’s Rory Delap, put him in this list.
Case in point when it comes to his long throws, is the one he pulled off against Green Archers last May 25 that led to Jordan Mintah’s 18th minute goal.
Goalkeeper: Michael Casas (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Despite only starting for his club’s second match, Michael Casas stood his ground for a commendable shift against a formidable Stallion team.
Considered a massive clash between two teams expected to be within the league’s top three, the agile shot-stopper was able to keep Stallion at bay to deny a possible comeback, notching a clean sheet in the process (the club’s second in as many games) for a monumental away win.
Honorable Mention: Kenneth Dolloso (GK, Philippine Air Force FC)
Despite ending up conceding a total of five goals, Air Force’s Kenneth Dolloso produced an inspired performance to keep Ceres-Negros’ lead to just one after the first half.
Along with that torrential shift between the posts, he was still able to avert an even more lopsided scoreline by saving several shots from the defending champions – a truly commendable effort by the Airmen’s custodian.
Week 1 Match Results
May 25, 2019: Kaya 4-0 Green Archers Utd; Stallion 2-2 Ceres
May 29, 2019: Stallion 0-2 Kaya; Air Force 0-5 Ceres; Green Archers Utd 1-0 Global
Photo credits: PFL, Kaya FC Iloilo, AFC Cup