Fresh from winning the 2019 Philippines Football League trophy last October 19 without suffering a loss, Ceres-Negros might be gearing up for total domination of the domestic football with players hinting at an all-out campaign for the Copa Paulino Alcantara.
The initial celebrations of the club may just have ended as of this writing, which will be followed by a much deserved rest, relaxation and recovery after achieving a monumental feat in the history of Philippine professional football, but some of the key players are already starting to set their sights on the cup campaign and really challenge to win an unprecedented “double”.
Spanish striker, Bienvenido Maranon, who top-scored for The Busmen with 30 goals already provided his intent on winning the Copa Alcantara believing that that the club has the ability to take it all this 2019.
“We have to enjoy (winning this title) for one week then, it’s time to prepare for the cup… Ceres is not gonna play (just) to lose or to draw. We got to have to play to win everything because Ceres deserves to win everything.”
Meanwhile, Robert Lopez Mendy of Senegal returned to the PFL midseason with a bang, immediately finding his form for his new club will look to maintain his scoring touch to win the Copa Alcantara, a title in which he helped his former team Kaya FC Iloilo win last year through his late strike.
“It was an exciting season. After securing the league title we wanted to finish unbeaten and we were able to achieve it. It was a good experience.
“My individual target is always the same which is to score goals. That’s my job. But I think for the team, it’s the same objective which we have to do which is to go out there and win whatever we can win.”
Another newcomer to the club, one of the only two Azkals “centurions”, James Younghusband also personally looks forward to the next cup campaign after the team concludes its league championship celebrations when asked about going all-out.
“Sure, you always want to go all-out (to win the cup. But) it’s all up to the coach (Risto Vidakovic). He’s the mastermind and he’s the one who makes the great decisions… But now we’re just enjoying the celebrations the moment that we’ve won the league then we’ll have a short break and then (the team) will come together and focus on the cup.
“As for me personally I’m looking forward to (the Copa Paulino Alcantara) especially playing against the (Philippines) Under-22.”
Ceres-Negros might have the ingredients this 2019 to swoop for two trophies, a first-ever in Philippine professional football era if they pull it off successfully, given their squad depth.
But how the team competes in the tournament will depend overall on the main objectives and approach from Ceres Head Coach Risto Vidakovic if winning the cup will be a top priority given that his team are in for another grinding set campaigns as AFC Champions League qualification or AFC Cup are now in-line after their successful domestic league championship run.
A total of eight teams will vie for the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara which will have its draw on October 20. The first match-day is set on October 26.
League champions Ceres-Negros were able to attain what has not been done before in Philippine professional football as they conclude the 2019 domestic campaign without suffering a defeat.
The stellar achievement was confirmed when The Busmen scored three unanswered goals against league runners-up Kaya FC Iloilo with OJ Porteria, Bienvenido Maranon, and James Younghusband finding the back of the net in top two clubs’ final face-off in the league season that was held in Aboitiz Pitch Lipa last October 19.
The match was built up to be champions Ceres-Negros final hurdle towards an undefeated season, while runners-up Kaya are being billed as the last team with the chance to tarnish the three-time champions’ campaign by inflicting their only defeat.
The first half unfolded with both clubs presented with some promising chances, but 45 minutes have passed with both sides heading to their respective dugouts empty-handed with a goalless stalemate.
However, come the second half, Ceres-Negros were able to turn-up the proceedings a notch higher. Eventually The Busmen were rewarded as OJ Porteria broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute with a header off captain Stephan Schrock’s assist.
A sort of late collapse by Kaya unfolded late in the match as Bienvenido Maranon doubled Ceres’ lead in the 90th minute followed by a third by substitute James Younghusband as the memorable evening and the floodlights smiled in favor of the Bacolod-based side achieving an undefeated season.
The almost year-long domestic front does not end though with the league championship as Ceres Head Coach Risto Vidakovic’s men have another chance to further achieve an unprecedented milestone if they can win the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara which will begin soon.
Ceres Negros have just clinched their third straight Philippines Football League (PFL) title after getting a 3-1 win against Green Archers United last October 12, further stamping their dominance in the country’s top flight.
WILL CERES CONCLUDE THE LEAGUE CAMPAIGN AS INVINCIBLES?
The champions-elect no doubt had, for the third straight time, been in ruthless form as they set their hands on the league trophy without suffering a loss.
However, with the reward already in the bag and still a few matches left, can the Busmen sustain the momentum in avoiding a defeat and achieve the unprecedented invincible tag?
It seems very possible feat to achieve given the quality of the Bacolod-based club, but it will depend on Coach Risto Vidakovic’s approach and his wards’ hunger to reach an even greater milestone in this already successful season if they will continue stepping on the gas pedal until the last whistle of their final match.
And, if ever Ceres-Negros do fail to get a point in any of their remaining fixtures, which team (or teams) between Global, Mendiola or Kaya will earn the distinction of defeating the three-time champions this season?
Now, that is something to set one’s sights.
WHO WILL END UP AS LEAGUE TOP SCORER?
As of the moment, Kaya FC Iloilo target-man Jordan Mintah is in the driver’s seat the league’s best scorer for the season with 32 goals, but not far behind is Ceres-Negros hotshot Bienvenido Maranon with 27 conversions.
Both forwards are in rich vein of form respectively, converting chances presented to them into precious goals almost at will. Maranon though will relish the possibility of getting the individual achievement on top of the team trophy to further stamp Ceres’ stellar campaign while Jordan will definitely try to finish strong after his team missed out once again in stealing the title out of Ceres’ grasps.
A battle for individual honors that shouldn’t be missed is definitely being realized and whatever the outcome, this duel between tried and tested forwards from two of the best clubs in the country in recent times will go down as a memorable one.
WHICH LOCAL PLAYER WILL END UP SCORING THE MOST GOALS?
As of the moment, a three-way battle between Mendiola’s Jim Ashley Flores (9 goals) and Stallion teammates, Jesus Melliza (11 goals) and Fitch Arboleda (9 goals) is happening as they vie for who is going to end up as the best scoring local player.
Stallion may have less matches left in the campaign though compared to Mendiola, but in the end, it all boils down on who can maintain their scoring touch in front of goal.
The feat may prove crucial if taken into a much bigger context, as it may play a role when it comes to future national team call-ups, if any of these players are being shortlisted to be part of in the near future.
Just as the season in Philippine professional football has reached its midseason with the league seemingly just going through the motions a much welcome development happened with the inclusion of a facility in Lipa, Batangas that could save the league from a viewership perspective.
More known as the Aboitiz Pitch located within the Lima Estate in Batangas right on the edge of Lipa, the venue (which serves as the home ground of Green Archers United), with its current features as a playing surface and potential as a major hub for top-level tournaments, may just have shown what it takes to invigorate the remaining fixtures of the 2019 Philippines Football League [PFL] season.
It’s time to delve a bit more as to why this artificial pitch facility located at a considerable distance south of Metro Manila is such a saving grace for a league that could have headed towards an even greater disappointment in terms of fan experience.
BEFORE: A SAD SITUATION
PFL’s 2019 season hastily got its green-light after the demise of what could have been a season under a new league management (with a different branding). With several factors at stake, most especially when it comes to the Philippine clubs’ eligibility to participate in the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) international club tournaments (namely, AFC Cup and AFC Champions League) for the country’s top two performing teams (held by Kaya FC Iloilo and Ceres-Negros for the 2019 season), the league pushed through with the status quo when it comes to the top-tier professional club league affairs.
However, for 2019 it wasn’t really the same compared to 2018. The league opted to scrap the traditional “home and away” format particularly the inter-island travels in consideration of the the participating clubs which shouldered exorbitant costs for transportation and lodging for away matches the past season. But this decision, in effect, removed Ceres-Negros’ Panaad Stadium and Kaya FC’s Iloilo Sports Complex out of the equation when it comes to the venues, leaving the league with two stadiums that can host matches: Rizal Stadium and Stallion Laguna’s Binan Football Stadium.
The problem is Rizal Stadium eventually was closed for renovation as it has been tapped as a venue for the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) football.
As a mitigating approach, the PFF artificial training pitch in Carmona, Cavite was tapped as another venue. Now lies the problem, that particular facility is not suitable to regularly host top-tier football matches as it is what it is: a training facility. It maybe a decent playing surface but it is far from appealing as a match venue for fans.
It maybe understandable if two to three matches were held there due to extreme reasons such as that suitable venues were unavailable. But no, the PFF Training Center has been for quite a considerable space in time been the ‘de facto’ main venue of the league. The effect via livestream was disheartening.
In one particular match between Ceres and Kaya last July 10, in what should be the biggest high-quality match of the season between the only two of the nation’s AFC Cup participants for 2019 – both boasting national team players and players with European football experience – and one can see in every corner, missed attempt or throw-in scenario, cows grazing a few feet away. This writer can categorically say that that was one of the lowest points of the league’s current season.
On July 23, the PFL had an inspection in the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa as a possible additional venue to be primarily used as the home grounds of league debutants Green Archers United.
Eventually the nod by the league’s management has been secured and soon enough, Aboitiz Pitch hosted for the first time on August 3 as a neutral turf for a double-header that featured Mendiola against Global and a redemption headliner for the second meeting between defending league champion Ceres and cup ace Kaya.
For the first time, in quite a while, an evening kick-off was witnessed. Although, the proceedings have been dampened by the excessive downpour brought about by the monsoon exacerbated by a typhoon system north of the country. The new ground proved its worth, showing its features as a capable “all-weather” playing surface with an impromptu stress test. Despite the rains and howling winds, that affected the livestream coverage and even the technical overall quality of the match, the game was able to push through due to its surprisingly adequate drainage system that despite some puddle buildup, was still playable enough not to suffer major match delays.
The following weekend, on August 10 and 11, with much more favorable conditions, fans both in the stands and watching via livestream were able to enjoy the matches more.
LIPA PITCH: NOT PERFECT, BUT [MUCH] BETTER
The new venue option in Lipa may have provided a much needed revitalisation for the league in terms of the viewership experience for fans both in-person and on-line but it still has quite some improvements to undergo.
First is the spectator area, the bleachers aren’t covered forcing the fans to retreat to the roofed area during the August 3 and 4 matchdays, which does not have seats (facility management provided monobloc chairs as a stopgap but they were limited in numbers) and is far from the pitch drastically lessening match experience.
Second, the toilet facilities for spectators were not easily accessible (one has to go around the venue or pass over or under the tape barriers) and had drainage issues for the men’s room (the monsoon could have contributed) using instead the staff’s toilet or go further to the retail/mall restrooms.
Third, it’s just damn far (for Metro Manila fans). But this fact has a major upside: It opens up the sport to possible new fans within the vicinity. The playing ground is situated within an industrial zone. Beside the pitch is an outlets mall with shopping and dining facilities. Also nearby is a residential area. The setup is almost perfect in applying the principle of bringing the sport to the places outside the distractions of Metro Manila.
Despite these shortcomings, it is to note that the Aboitiz Pitch is not yet 100 percent complete especially when it comes to what it can offer to in-venue viewers. At least two food shops are planned to be setup behind the spectators’ area which once completed, would drastically improve the overall experience for fans.
This football facility in Lipa is a very welcome addition to the current Binan Football Stadium – which is not yet capable of hosting evening matches, and surely much better than the spartan and “not media friendly” PFF Training Pitch.
HOW ABOUT PFF CARMONA?
This doesn’t mean to fully eliminate the training center in Carmona being featured in the PFL, but it should be used for extreme cases only – as a last resort for last-minute, unforeseen venue constraints. The considerable number of matchdays in the past weeks should be enough already.
PFF Center doesn’t have the appeal, all the more, the atmosphere to host a football match that is considered as “professional” and “top-flight”.
To paraphrase one player who shared his resoundingly positive impression after playing in Lipa last August 3:
“This [Aboitiz Pitch] is very good! It has lights, fans are here [despite lower turnout due to the weather]. It encourages us to feel better and play better.
“It looks more professional – the way it should be.
“How can we be encouraged in [Carmona] if there are no fans watching, even worse, there are cows?!”
The Carmona facility should stay as it is meant to be: a training pitch. It should be a haven for clubs and squads to improve themselves and play outside the prying eyes of media and the possible accompanying distractions from fans. Case in point: The Azkals’ closed-door match against Mongolia last year as part of the preparation for the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.
A SMALL POSITIVE
In closing, the coming of Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa to the PFL is just a small positive, but an urgently needed one.
There are still challenges in Philippine pro football that need to be addressed such as spreading the league to the provinces in a cost-effective manner, and using other traditional media channels to reach more people (particularly in Bacolod and Iloilo which are represented in the league) to name a few.
It is good that a new facility came into the Philippine professional football landscape. Here’s to hoping it won’t end there. Last June 6, the PFL management also did an inspection of a stadium in Imus, Cavite, which may or may not have passed the requirements as it has yet to host a match. Whatever, the case maybe, the need to increase match-worthy venues is imperative as it is a reflection of the league itself.
After a stint with UiTM FC in Malaysia Premier League, Robert Lopez Mendy joins Philippines Football League defending champions Ceres-Negros FC.
The signing was completed on July 19, according to Ceres-Negros Head Coach Risto Vidakovic.
The 32-year-old Senegalese forward had been a lethal finisher for his former Filipino club Kaya FC Iloilo, but after a contrasting tenure in front of goal in Malaysia, he gets another opportunity to regain his old scoring ways for Ceres-Negros under Coach Risto.
His 43 goals in 43 appearances for Kaya speak volumes in the Philippine pro football setting as he helped the club win the inaugural Copa Paulino Alcantara and secure an AFC Cup qualification slot, something that his new team would be looking forward from him.
Before that glorious tenure with Kaya, Mendy was with Green Archers United where he made a name as an effective attacking player in what was then known as the United Football League.
As for Ceres-Negros, the club’s reinforcement does not end in their swoop for Mendy as they looked into their young talents this time, promoting two Ceres Youth players Charles Ivan Barberan of Bukidnon and Tristan Kit Robles of Iloilo City to the senior squad for the rest of the domestic campaign.
Ceres Negros will see action in the PFL 2019 season tomorrow, Sunday (July 21), against Green Archers United which will be held in The PFF National Training Center in Carmona. Match will be streamed live via pfltv.ph.
Ruthless and lopsided victories by Ceres Negros and Green Archers United this past weekend have racked up the total number goals scored in the Philippines Football League 2019 to 110 breaching the century-mark as we revisit who, at the moment, are the top scorers in the league.
With three matches completed recently, Ceres Negros scored a dozen of unanswered goals to beat hapless Air Force accompanied by a tightly contested 1-0 win by Kaya against Stallion in a simultaneous fixture that transpired last Saturday, July 13. The two matches were then followed by a 9-0 dismantling of Global FC by in-form Green Archers United the following day, Sunday.
The massive 22-goal haul produced during the course of the weekend has put the current PFL season’s goals tally to well beyond the 100-mark as we look at who are the league leaders when it comes to shaking the back of the net for their respective clubs. Of course, we will also tackle the top performing brands of boots so as to see if there are any surprise names that put their name on the Philippine pro-football map.
PFL TOP SCORERS
Tied at 5th Place: 3 Goals
Jovin Bedic (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Nathan Alquiros (Stallion Laguna)
Fitch Arboleda (Stallion Laguna)
Chima Uzoka (Stallion Laguna)
Jimuel Ariola (Green Archers Utd)
Tied at 4th Place: 4 Goals
Curt Dizon (Ceres Negros)
Marvin Angeles (Green Archers United)
Stephan Schröck (Ceres Negros)
Tied at 3rd Place: 5 Goals
Mike Ott (Ceres Negros)
John Celiz (Green Archers United)
2nd Place: 9 Goals
Jordan Mintah (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Marañon sits undisputed on the driver’s seat
On top of the standings is none other than Bienvenido Marañon.
Ceres-Negros’ lethal striker has already beaten the opposing defences 16 times making him the only one to get to double digits when it comes to scoring goals at this moment in the on-going season.
His telepathic understanding with talismanic midfielder Stephan Schröck where the Filipino international has been the provider for the Spaniard has been the biggest key producing seven of those goals from that tandem alone.
With the PFL 2019 still far from over, it can be expected that at this form, Marañon could score much more and may be well on his way to top the charts at the campaign’s conclusion.
TOP PERFORMING BOOTS
A total of seven football shoe brands have found the back of the net in the ongoing PFL 2019 season. Before we look into the top 3 most lethal footwear in the league here are the ones that made the list:
New Balance (1 goal)
Kipsta/Decathlon (1 goal) -> a welcome surprise!
Puma (2 goals)
Mizuno (4 goals)
TOP 2: ADIDAS Football
With 18 players who scored in the PFL wearing the three stripes on their feet, a total of 35 goals are attributed to the German brand with Jordan Mintah being at the forefront.
TOP 1: NIKE Football
Seemingly a favorite of most attacking players in the PFL with Ceres Negros midfield maestro Stephan Schröck as one of its leading disciples, 25 individuals found the back of the net while equipped with the swoosh brand for a whopping 59 goals all in all.
Wait, where’s TOP 3?
Well, it’s been saved for last since the brand can be considered the biggest climber with respect to its relative profile compared to the other global brands and it’s none other than CONCAVE which has Bienvenido Marañon to thank for.
Ceres’ most lethal striker, despite being signed under the Australian brand, began the domestic campaign wearing a different pair of boots opting to limit the use of his Concave Halo’s for the AFC Cup campaign where the Spaniard turned out to be one of the best goalscorers.
However, once The Busmen’s continental front has come to an end at the ASEAN Zone semifinals, Marañon began to wear Concaves in the PFL where he racked up eight goals in his Halo’s in just four matches to magically push the brand to third spot in the standings!
Now, the question is, with Marañon rocking a pair which does not have mainstream footprint in the Philippines (Concave Asia is based in Indonesia as per its Instagram account), can this influence the striker for a future move to a different country where the brand has a much more visible presence in the near future?
In a matchweek that has seen fixtures laid out for quite a stretch, here is the third edition of 5th Minute of Added Time’s eleven standout players that make up the Team of the Week (TOTW) list.
June 15: Stallion 6-1 Mendiola; Kaya 1-0 Global June 19: Global 3-1 Air Force, Mendiola 3-6 Kaya, Green Archers 0-0 Stallion June 22: Global v Mendiola (abandoned) June 23: Air Force 0-3 Green Archers
Goalkeeper: Henri Bandeken Fong (Green Archers United)
The Cameroonian shot-stopper has been immense for Green Archers’ draw against Stallion Laguna last June 19 in a match that is considered as probably one of the toughest challenges they have in their campaign.
With several key saves, Green Archers were able to repel Stallion’s chances holding them scoreless as both teams shared the spoils in which the Archers would consider as a massive achievement, thanks to the efforts of their colossal sentinel that night.
Defender: Reynald Villareal (Stallion Laguna)
Stallion’s centerback has been a key figure in the club’s defense line during its two-game stretch for this edition of TOTW where both Mendiola and Green Archers were not able to find the back of the net.
Defender: Julian Clarino (Stallion Laguna)
The former UP Fighting Maroon has been a dependable force for the Binan-based club both in his defensive role and as a conduit in being one of the channels towards an offensive buildup from the left flank.
His efforts as one of the pieces in Stallion’s backline has been rewarded successfully helping the club get two clean sheets against Mendiola and, more importantly, against Green Archers United.
Defender: Reymart Cubon (Green Archers United)
Definitely not to be missed out as one of this week’s outstanding defenders, homegrown talent Reymart Cubon has been undeniably stellar at the back as Green Archers United amassed two clean-sheets against Stallion and Air Force to help propel the club to second place (as of this writing) in the league standings.
One of Stallion’s go to guy when it comes to the attack, Fitch Arboleda’s brace in a win against Mendiola FC and initiatives up front in a draw against Green Archers United cannot deny his quality for the Laguna-based outfit.
Midfielder: Eric Giganto (Kaya FC Iloilo)
A player who can deliver big time for the club when called upon, Eric Giganto showed once again why he is one of Kaya’s major threats this season with two stellar goals and an assist against Mendiola last June 19.
Now that is one heck of an all-around attacking effort.
Midfielder: Marvin Angeles (Green Archers United)
What can we say? Despite coming in as a substitute, Marvin Angeles showed his undeniable talent and quality when it mattered most by scoring two goals against Air Force.
His second one was a thing of beauty as he connected with Paolo Bugas’ delivery in spectacular fashion with an acrobatic volley as icing on the cake as Green Archers’ leaped their way to second place in the PFL standings.
Midfielder: Alfred Osei (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Whether being an enforcer or a scoring option, Alfred Osei, proves that he can operate as a box-to-box midfielder for Kaya FC.
His scoring capabilities has been witnessed once again as he registered his first goal for the domestic campaign against Global last June 15.
Midfielder: Paolo Bugas (Green Archers United)
Paolo Bugas is turning out to be one of the main midfield architects for his club this 2019 season with his creativity, vision and distribution.
His well-placed and well-weighted pass leading to Marvin Angeles’ highlight reel notched his second assist for the season.
Chima Uzoka (Stallion Laguna)
Chima Uzoka’s hat-trick against Mendiola has been a glimpse of what he can offer for the club.
And despite being held in a goalless draw against Green Archers in the following match, his previous exploits showed his potential for his new club.
Jordan Mintah (Kaya FC Iloilo)
With another hat-trick against Mendiola FC, Jordan Mintah puts his goals tally up to seven, propelling him to second place in the scorers table.
But what’s more important than being up there as one of the most potent strikers in the league is the fact that his efforts helped his club Kaya FC maintain its perfect start to the season and the early grip of the leadership in the race for the domestic league championship.
The Philippines Football League concluded a busy Wednesday with Kaya FC Iloilo maintaining their perfect run to the season off a goal-fest and Global FC notching their first win of the campaign. Meanwhile Green Archers United held Stallion to a scoreless draw as both teams rounded up the matchday sharing the spoils.
Kaya FC show firepower over Mendiola in a nine-goal spectacle
The Iloilo representatives of the PFL proved once again that they are legitimate challengers for the throne this season after scoring six goals against Mendiola FC 1991’s three. Jordan Mintah scored a hat-trick while Eric Giganto got a brace with Shirmar Felongco also getting on the scoresheet with a first half conversion.
Despite finding the back of the net thrice with team captain Aaron Altiche, Ashley Flores and Alen Angeles scoring, Mendiola FC 1991 could only look into the positives on the match regarding their offense as the goals were not enough against the might of their opponents for the day.
Global FC fightback results to first win of the campaign
A spirited second half performance by Global FC over Air Force proved to be a much needed boost in the midst of their rebuild as they get their first three points of the season.
Late goals by Kennedy Uzoka, Marvin Bricenio and Matthew Custodio were enough to overturn an Alvin Obero own-goal in the first half.
Stallion held by Green Archers
In what was considered as the marquee matchup for the day, Green Archers United produced a monumental defensive effort, particularly from goalkeeper Henri Bandeken, as they were able to successfully hold their fort and repel the attacks of Stallion to a goalless draw, showing that they are the best performing debutants this early in the PFL season.
Stallion though might consider this result as a lost opportunity that could later haunt them in their aim to contend for an AFC tournament qualification with some squandered gilt-edged chances that could have killed the match in their favor.
A little over a month has passed since the third season of the Philippines Football League has commenced. With 43 goals scored in total, here are the top scoring football boots in the country’s top tier (as of June 17, 2019).
Puma, Kipsta: 1 goal each
Mendiola’s Franco Dela Torre scored a goal near the half-hour mark last June 2 against Green Archers United wearing a pair of Kipsta Agility’s.
Alvin Obero of Air Force etched his name in the goalscoring tally after converting against Mendiola near the hour mark last June 8 while armed with his Puma Future boots.
Mizuno: 3 goals
Green Archers United’s Val Jurao scored a brace last June 2 against Mendiola in Morelia Neos.
Meanwhile, defender Martin Steuble scored a spectacular 24th minute goal for Ceres-Negros during the club’s opener against Stallion while also wearing the Morelia Neos.
Adidas: 14 goals
Adidas came in second in the standings with 14 goals, led by Kaya FC Iloilo’s Jordan Mintah who was able to shake the back of the net four times making him the second highest scorer in the league at the moment with his Adidas Nemeziz Initiators.
Other goal-scorers for Adidas: Jayson Panhay (Kaya FC), Christian Zubiri (Green Archers), Mike Ott (Ceres-Negros), Jo Warren Bedia (Stallion), Nathan Alquiros (Stallion), James Kim (Green Archers), Papuh Corsame (Mendiola FC), Alfred Osei (Kaya FC)
Nike: 24 goals
Currently the choice of the league’s deadliest strikers and chance-takers, Nike boasts the most number of conversions with the ball crossing the line and into the back of the net a whopping 24 times.
Although leading by a very significant margin, Nike also has the distinction of scoring an own goal.
Topping the list of scorers at the moment while wearing Nike in the Philippines Football League is Ceres-Negros’ Bienvenido Marañon with a league-leading eight goals under his name, all while wearing Nike Tiempo 7 Stealth Ops.
Other goal-scorers for Nike in the PFL: Abou Sy (Stallion), Jovin Bedic (Kaya FC), Curt Dizon (Ceres-Negros), Mahir Karic (Ceres-Negros), Jeffrey Chirstiaens (Ceres-Negros), Floriano Pasilan (Green Archers), John Celiz (Green Archers), Fitch Arboleda (Stallion), Ashley Flores (Mendiola FC), Chima Uzoka (Stallion)
Two matches in the Philippines Football League saw Stallion Laguna get a lopsided 6-1 win against Mendiola FC 1991 while Kaya FC Iloilo toiled to a 1-0 result against a resolute Global FC in last Saturday in the Philippines Football League.
Inspired second half for Stallion
After a seemingly close scoreline of 2-1 at halftime in favor of the hosts courtesy of an early Nathan Alquiros freekick in the sixth minute and a close range conversion by Fitch Arboleda in the eighth to go against a 20th minute penalty kick by Ashley Flores for the visiting side, the Biñan-based outfit produced an inspired performance after the restart to notch in four unanswered goals against 10-man Mendiola FC.
Substitute striker Chyma Uzoka produced a stellar output with his first hat-trick (55′, 83′, 87′) for his new club with Arboleda also adding another in the 86th minute to complete his brace.
Prior to the home side’s barrage, the writing was on the wall when Mendiola went down to ten-men in the 52nd minute when Franco Dela Torre got his marching orders from referee Michael Barajas for a second bookable offense.
The win puts Stallion in third place of the standings, overtaking Green Archers United (which they face on Wednesday, June 19) by a point.
Lone goal puts Kaya on top
Meanwhile, in an almost simultaneous match in Rizal Stadium, a 52nd minute opportunistic pounce by Alfred Osei has been the difference that broke Global’s gallant effort particularly from goalkeeper Nelson Gasic.
A lackluster performance in front of goal that lacked the usual killer instincts from their forward line, Kaya toiled to convert their chances despite a seemingly one-sided affair as Global focused on defense to avoid a similar walloping they suffered at the hands of Ceres-Negros.
At the end of the match, Global were successful in stymieing their more favored opponents for the most part, but they weren’t able to deny Kaya the full three points and hand them their first blemish in the standings as the Iloilo-based squad regains the leadership with a still perfect slate.
Battle for early supremacy shapes up
With Saturday’s results, a crucial match awaits on Wedensday. Although three fixtures are set on June 19, the match between Green Archers United and Stallion Laguna can be the most telling one as it will determine who will momentarily leap-frog Ceres-Negros and seize the provisional second spot in the table.
The clash will serve as the best opportunity for Green Archers to put their form to the test and how far they’ve progressed this early in their maiden season in the pro-ranks. Meanwhile for Stallion, their face-off with the Archers will serve as their next major challenge in their bid to vie for a spot for an AFC competition.
This Wednesday, June 19, is indeed going to be a major barometer for these two clubs.
Meanwhile, for the other fixtures, Philippine Air Force and Global set to battle on who will get their first win. On the other hand, winless Mendiola FC face a monumental task as they try to upset league leaders Kaya.