pfl-2019-team-of-the-week-totw-2

PFL Team of the Week 2

Four matches involving six clubs in a long match-week, interrupted by a midweek holiday, have been the basis of this second edition of PFL Team of the Week.

MATCH RESULTS:

June 1: Air Force 0-3 Stallion Laguna; Global 0-8 Ceres-Negros
June 2: Mendiola 1-5 Green Archers United
June 8: Mendiola 1-1 Air Force

A dominant performance by Ceres-Negros FC means that all their starters could make the Team of the Week, but with some commendable performances from the other two victorious clubs, it would be fair to pick some choice players who made a mark for their respective teams as well.

FORMATION: 3-4-3

Center Forward: Bienvenido Marañon (Ceres-Negros FC)

Source: PFL

Ceres-Negros’ Spanish forward propelled The Busmen to their second straight win in three matches by scoring four goals as they went on a rampage against Global FC with an 8-0 result.

The haul also put Marañon on top of the goals tally with a total of eight conversions under his belt.

Such an output and lethal performance makes him the undisputed front-man in this three-pronged attack-line for this week’s standouts’ roster.

Left Winger/Striker: Mike Ott (Ceres-Negros FC)

Source: PFL

Filipino international Mike Ott has logged in a productive shift for the Bacolod-based club against Global, scoring from the penalty right before halftime break and assisting a Mahir Karić goal late in the second half.

The pacy forward, who operates wide and lurks from deep outside the box at times, has shown his array of capabilities in this fixture. And although he started at the right side of the pitch opposite an equally speedy Curt Dizon, his versatility to operate on the other side of the pitch, as demonstrated later on in the match, makes him an effective left winger in this week’s TOTW lineup.

Secondary Striker: Val Jurao (Green Archers United)

Source: PFL

Former FEU front-man Val Jurao showed composure and impeccable positioning in two different occasions that led to his brace, helping his team Green Archers United get a comfortable 5-1 win over Mendiola FC.

A constant live-wire for coach Joel Villarino up front, the striker’s abilities give Green Archers United, which is on its second straight win, an added dimension to its offense along with strike partners, Christian Zubiri and John Celiz.

Left Attacking Midfielder: Jo Warren Bedia (Stallion Laguna)

Source: Arturo Rafael Enriquez / Stallion Laguna

Initially fielded at the left side of the park, Bedia eventually became more involved with Stallion’s front-line where his craftiness and excellent positioning produced two poacher’s goals against Air Force that ended in a 3-0 win for the Biñan-based club.

Bedia’s breakout performance as a starter may have given coach Ernest Nierras an assurance that his squad’s attacking quality remains intact in the midst of forward Abou Sy’s absence through injury.

Such capabilities displayed against Air Force also puts Jo Warren in this edition’s Team of the Week as a deceptive midfielder with the license to move forward in attacking situations.

Central Midfielder: Stephan Schröck (Ceres-Negros FC)

Source: PFL

The Azkals’ current captain once again showed his immense quality with Ceres-Negros as a spark-plug and creator either with his runs or telling passes towards his teammates in front of goal.

One of Schröck’s efforts resulted to another feed for another goal by Bienvenido Marañon, putting the midfield maestro as the sole leader in the assists tally with two. Ceres’ midfield talisman definitely earns his spot into this edition of TOTW.

Central Midfielder: Paolo Bugas (Green Archers United)

Source: PFL

The former FEU star and Global-Cebu stalwart produced a Man of the Match performance for Green Archers United against Mendiola by dictating the proceedings from the middle of the park.

His well-weighted passes and overall ball-distribution have been crucial for the Green Archers’ success, particularly in their latest assignment against Mendiola. To top it all off, Bugas’ pass led to a spectacular Florian Pasilan goal early in the second half.

Such a commendable shift makes Paolo Bugas one of the midfield game changers in this week’s squad.

Right Midfielder: Nathan Alquiros (Stallion Laguna)

Source: Arturo Rafael Enriquez / Stallion Laguna

Despite seeing his attempt from the penalty spot saved during Stallion’s match against Air Force, the midfielder continued to contribute for his team initiating attacks or linking with his teammates from the midfield.

His efforts eventually paid off by scoring his club’s third goal of the fixture and making up for the earlier missed chance he had.

Defender: Jeffrey Christiaens (Ceres-Negros)

Source: PFL

Jeffrey Christiaens put in a solid performance on the defensive end for Ceres against Global while marauding the left flank in attacking situations and providing a steady feed of chances for his team to work on.

A goal scored late in the game proved to be the icing on the cake for Christiaens that further solidifies his place in this edition of TOTW.

Defender: Christian Nana (Stallion Laguna)

Source: PFL

Stallion Laguna’s Senegalese defender stamped his authority in the match against Air Force, not only in being one of the sentinels for Coach Ernest Nierras, but he also on occasions been involved in pushing the ball upfield and initiating the attack.

A clean-sheet, with the opponents generally kept at bay, is enough evidence of an immense defensive performance by the backline in which Nana has been a significant factor.

Defender: Martin Steuble (Ceres-Negros)

Source: PFL

Martin Steuble’s defensive efforts for Ceres against Global produced a convincing one-sided win by keeping the opposition well in check and scoreless.

Aside from his expected role on the defensive end, he was also able to contribute to the attack producing an assist for Bienvenido Marañon towards the business end of that particular match.

Goalkeeper: Roland Müller (Ceres-Negros)

Source: PFL

Ceres’ domination of this TOTW’s lineup ends with Roland Müller, who was able to pull an almost complete turn-around from his previous lackluster performance against Stallion with a clean sheet against Global.

It wasn’t an easy shift for the former Azkals’ shot-stopper though as he was called into action in some occasions, forcing him to make crucial saves as Global were desperate in their attempts to reduce the deficit, to no avail.

Such clean-sheet for a bounce-back performance is enough to put Roland Müller as the keeper in this edition of Team of the Week.

Photo credit: Philippines Football League Facebook page

PFL 2019: Opening day talking points

Pro-football is alive once again in the country as the third season  of Philippines Football League (PFL) has finally commenced with a double header concluding in Rizal Memorial Stadium last Saturday, May 25, 2019.

The first fixture, which kicked off late in the afternoon saw Copa Paulino Alcantara champions Kaya-Iloilo as the winners after registering a comfortable 4-0 win against league newcomers Green Archers United. 

The almost one-sided match was then followed by a highly anticipated clash between defending champions Ceres-Negros and a much reinforced Stallion Laguna which delivered on its hype, ending in a 2-2 draw in what could possibly a meeting between two of the three clubs that could be the Philippines’ next AFC tournament representatives.

With four of the total seven teams already done with their first assignments, here are the initial talking points regarding the league after the start of Season 3:

Battle for trophy and AFC spot could be the toughest yet

With Stallion Laguna surprising Ceres – considerably the best club in the country at present – with a 2-2 draw, it is possible that the Bacolod-based club’s predictable domination of seasons past could be coming to an end.

Although The Busmen are still being tipped to win this season for the first and outright AFC Champions League or AFC Cup berth, Coach Risto Vidakovic’s men could be pushed to the limit to wrest their third PFL trophy, with a slim chance of even coming up short it if they slip up in the same way as they have shown in the draw against Stallion.

With Coach Ernest Nierras’ Biñan-based club hungry to build a run of positive results after two seasons of inconsistencies, add to that Coach Noel Marcaida and his Kaya-Iloilo wards’ drive to be back in the continental stage after falling short in surviving the 2019 AFC Cup group stage, Ceres should be wary of their backs as they attempt to maintain the pace and keep setting the standard in Philippine club football, particularly their continental ambitions.

TV would still help a lot (on top of livestream)

It is such a shame that the scintillating match between Ceres and Stallion flew under the radar for the most part due to unavailability of traditional live media such as TV and radio. Same thing with the quality of Kaya Iloilo and the potential of Green Archers United that were shown during the earlier fixture.

But given the situation with the PFL being revived in haste due to valid circumstances that significantly delayed the season’s start, a TV (or even radio) deal is yet to be confirmed.

Yes, livestream on the internet has been a very helpful form to fill the void, but the medium still has some limitations that limit the matches’ full accessibility to the masses particularly to the fanbases outside Metro Manila such as Bacolod and Iloilo (even Biñan to an extent).

Hopefully, a reasonable TV deal could be ironed out and matches will be aired soon.

Interesting campaigns for newcomers and rebuilding clubs

Despite Green Archers United turning out to be on the receiving end of a comprehensive 4-0 beating at the hands of “Man of the Match” Jordan Mintah and the rest of Kaya, the vanquished squad actually showed glimpses of their quality and potential particularly in the second half.

joel-villarino-gau

Head Coach Joel Villarino’s wards could actually face a much realistic litmus test in this league when they face co-league debutants Air Force and Mendiola FC 1991, as well as a rebuilding Global Makati (which they face on May 29).

At the moment (on paper at least), there seems to be a demarcation line on the quality of the pool of competitors in the PFL as the most probable top three (Ceres, Kaya and Stallion) would likely pull away from the rest of the pack in their quest for the trophy and a continental berth, while the four new and rebuilding clubs would battle it out for the honor of being the best of the rest.

It would be very much welcome if this assumed gap in quality be proven wrong as the season comes to a conclusion, and at least one of the four aforementioned clubs predicted to be in the bottom four would end up in the top three. But for now, it is just refreshing to see these league newcomers, yet established names in the Philippine footballing community, compete in the top flight and show their distinct styles of play.

Photo credit: PFL