Ceres-Negros-vs-Than-quang-ninh-AFCCup2020

Ceres-Negros, Than Quang Ninh share spoils in four-goal draw

A heated encounter between Philippine champions Ceres-Negros FC and Vietnamese side Than Quang Ninh FC ended in a battling 2-2 draw in the AFC Cup 2020 Group G match held in Rizal Stadium last February 25.

In the early proceedings, the match exhibited a stop-start pace as both sides tried to weigh each other, exhibiting physicality, with some fouls committed on both ends.

But at the seventh minute, the hosts showed signs with regards to their capabilities on the attack, particularly on the wing play at the right flank with OJ Porteria and Robert Lopez Mendy almost connecting.

A good run of spell in possession followed for Ceres-Negros as they were able to dictate the proceedings in the moments that followed.

At the 14th minute, Than Quang Ninh had a decent chance though to score the breakthrough off a corner kick, but the headed attempt just flew wide of the near post as it remained a stalemate after the first quarter of an hour.

Despite the threat, the busmen were able to regain their bearings as they dictated once again the match with a promising chance arriving in the 24th minute as Stephan Schrock produced a teasing low pass across the opposition’s goalmouth only for the ball to marginally avoid the lurking forwards, Bienvenido Maranon and Lopez Mendy.

However that chance proved to be something that they would immediately rue as the Vietnamese side found themselves in front in the 26th minute after capitalizing on a defensive error with forward Jermie Lynch guiding the ball with such precision to find the back of the net.

Ceres immediately tried to respond with two consecutive chances from headers, but the equalizer proved elusive with half an hour gone.

Six minutes later, Manuel Ott tried a speculative effort, but his attempt to pull off something spectacular came to naught as the shot missed the target.

However a late first-half drama ensued. As the hosts desperately tried to claw their way and come up with an equalizing goal, Bienvenido Maranon was fouled inside the box promoting Malaysian referee Mohd Amirul Rizwan to point to the spot.

The aggrieved Maranon, duly took the penalty with such audacity, converting a chipped effort to put the tie well in the balance, as both sides head into the break sharing a goal each.

After the restart, both sides went off the blocks by employing high pressure on both ends, trying to catch the opposition on the counter.

Nine minutes into the second half, after a well-worked passing play, Bienve Maranon found himself in a position to unleash and put Ceres ahead, but his lobbed effort went over the bar.

A similar situation faced Robert Lopez Mendy a few moments after but also his attempt went sky high.

In the 61st minute, after an excellent play initiated by Porteria that found Maranon, the ball eventually found Manuel Ott without opposition but his shot hit the bar.

That miss will not be much of a concern for the busmen in the next minute though, as Porteria eventually gave his side the lead, firing low from an angle that beat Than Quang Ninh keeper, Huyn Tuan Linh to send the stadium into raptures.

With the onus now on the visiting side to come up with a leveller, the hero miners eventually got what they were searching for in the 70th minute after a mix-up inside Ceres-Negros’ box gave midfielder Nguyen Hai Huy enough window for an opportunistic strike that caught Ceres keeper Roland Muller stranded and hushing the Rizal Memorial crowd into stunned silence.

Six minutes later another and the Vietnamese side produced another scare for the Philippine champions as another shot from range unleashed just scraped outside Muller’s left post, escaping what could definitely be a complicated deficit.

As both clubs searched for the wining goal, eventually the tie ended in a draw as both sides split points in Group G.

Ceres-Negros will next face Indonesian champions Bali United on March 11 in Rizal Stadium in what could be considered as the busmen’s biggest test yet in the early phase of this year’s continental tournament.

Photo credit: Ceres-Negros FC

ceres-negros-odawara-vs-svay-rieng-afccup2020

Ceres-Negros dominate in AFC Cup 2020 opener

Ceres-Negros FC put up a convincing team performance en-route to a 4-0 win against Cambodian champions Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC in the AFC Cup 2020 group stage opener last February 11, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Visitors Svay Rieng employed a high tempo from the get-go forcing Ceres-Negros to match the same intensity. The end-to-end dynamics provided Robert Lopez Mendy with an opportunity to test the opposing goalkeeper unleashing from distance in the fourth minute, only to miss the target.

In the eighth minute, Lopez Mendy once again was given a chance this time in a much better position to shoot inside the box but his attempt was so wayward.

Right in the 13th minute, Ceres-Negros finally got the breakthrough with Takashi Odawara’s low shot from the edge of the box finding the back of the net near the far post to put the hosts in front well within the first quarter of an hour.

A minute later and it was two goals up for the busmen as another goal was scored with Josh Grommen slotting in Stephan Schrock’s delivery to put the hosts at a much better situation.

Ceres-Negros were a bit on the upper-hand for the most part until the 22nd minute when a penalty was called against the hosts as Josh Grommen has been adjudged to have committed an infraction inside the box. However, Svay Rieng failed to capitalize from the spot as Ceres keeper Roland Muller produced a fine save to deny Thiago Dos Santos and maintain the two-goal difference.

Despite the bright start for the Filipino side, Cambodian champions Svay Rieng continued to be dangerous with their pacy approach to the game, especially on the counterattack.

But the early goals proved enough as the first half concluded with the busmen firmly in control heading into the break.

Ten minutes after the restart, Ceres-Negros once again found the back of the net for the third time after a slick linkup play found Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon at an angle who was still able to squeeze the ball past goalkeeper Aim Sovannarath.

Around the hour mark and the moments after, Svay Rieng had some good spells on their own, but with the half-chances presented to them, coach Risto Vidakovic’s men were equal to those as the breakthrough was hard to come by for the visitors.

At the stroke of the 70th minute, Maranon once again found the back of the net after a well-worked effort from OJ Porteria to carve the opening and lay-off a pass for his teammate to convert and put the tie virtually out of reach for the visitors.

Ceres-Negros will next face Vietnamese club Thanh Quang Ninh at Rizal Memorial Stadium on February 25, at 7:30 PM.

Photo credit: Ceres-Negros FC

ACL2020: FC Tokyo proved too big a hurdle for Ceres-Negros

Philippine champions Ceres-Negros fell short against hosts FC Tokyo as the AFC Champions League playoff match concluded 2-0 in favor of the Japanese side held in rain-soaked Ajinomoto Stadium last January 28.

The match began with both teams struggling to come up with decent play due to a waterlogged pitch. But FC Tokyo have been provided a promising opportunity with a free kick with skipper Keigo Higashi producing a teasing delivery but the ensuing header flew out of target.

In the 15th minute, FC Tokyo had a golden opportunity to get a goal with Higashi unleashing a goal-bound effort from inside the box, but Roland Muller pulled off a brilliant save with his leg to deny what could have been the breakthrough.

Come the 20th minute the Japanese outfit had another set-piece with Leandro providing the delivery only for Lebanese defender Joan Oumari to head over the bar.

A tense few moments immediately followed for the Filipino side as the east Asians marauded Ceres’ box, but the opportunities came and left unconverted.

Around the half-hour mark, both teams struggled to settle in their respective styles of play due to the tricky conditions that the water-logged pitch provided.

In the 37th minute, OJ Porteria’s ball-control forced FC Tokyo to commit a foul, but an almost decent effort from Ceres forward Bienvenido Maranon just flew wide of the far post.

Three minutes later, a defensive error by Super Herrera gifted Leandro a gilt-edged opportunity as he saw himself virtually in a one-on-one situation against Roland Muller but the Ceres stopper produced a brilliant double-save as parity was maintained until time expired for the end of the first half.

Three minutes after the restart, hosts FC Tokyo finally put themselves in front as a mix-up found defender Sei Muroya with the ball inside Ceres’ box who latched onto the opportunity with much conviction to beat Muller despite getting a hand on the ball.

Thirteen minutes later, the 2019 J1 runners up could have made it two goals up but Leandro’s strike just inside the D fizzled just wide of the far post as the hosts continued to pile on the pressure having seemingly adjusted already to the appallingly wet condition of the pitch.

True enough, FC Tokyo were able to find the back of the net once again, with Adailton pouncing on a good delivery from the right flank, only for the linesman to signal for offside which was harsh as replays showed a well-executed effort.

After a chipped shot by Adailton in the 72nd minute for FC Tokyo that beat Muller but missed the target, Mark Hartmann was introduced for Ceres in place of Dylan de Bruycker as the hosts were able to further impose themselves in the match.

A moment before the 80th minute, FC Tokyo were down to 10 men as Taichi Hara was given a straight red card for an elbow to Takashi Odawara’s forehead who needed treatment after being wounded from the contact.

Two minutes later, Ceres could have equalized from a set-piece but Super’s looping header was well anticipated by Tokyo’s sentry, Akihiro Hayashi.

In the 87th minute mark, Lopez Mendy saw his header fly wide and off the mark a set-piece. Another set-piece for the Filipino side saw Mendy with another chance to score with substitute James Younghusband on the support but the ball falling unkindly for the chance to pass.

And end-to-end action ensued immediately as what could be a penalty situation for Ceres was waived off with an opportunistic FC Tokyo pulling a quick counter for Adailton to be released, unleashing a crafty long-range strike that spectacularly found the back of the net and put the tie at rest in favor of the J1 side.

The result means FC Tokyo proceed to the group stage of the AFC Champions League, while Ceres-Negros FC will compete in the more familiar AFC Cup competition.

Photo credit: Ceres-Negros FC

Ceres-Negros-Chan-Utd-acl2020-prelim-action

OPINION: Ceres-Negros win ACL2020 campaign opener but concerns arise

Ceres-Negros FC pulled off possibly the best start early in its match against Shan United in the AFC Champions League Preliminary Stage, but a close final score showed concerns later in the tie as they head into their next challenge against a possibly much tougher Port FC.

As the Philippine domestic double champions continue their undefeated run and head to Bangkok in a week’s time to face Thailand’s domestic cup winners, here are some points of discussion on the busmen’s strengths and possible weaknesses to address as they bid to go further in their Champions League qualification campaign.

Immense frontline capability

Ceres-Negros showed their attacking might during their match against the Burmese champions as they dominated possession and peppered the visitors with attempts for the most part.

Robert Lopez Mendy, and Bienvenido Marañon got their goals, proving their striking ability for the busmen. With the additional firepower coming from attack-minded players such as Mike Ott and OJ Porteria (who also found the back of the net on top of a man of the match performance), and the creativity provided by Stephan Schröck and Hikaru Minegishi, Ceres were able to supply a sustained level of attacking verve and options that proved crucial in registering the goals they needed to get the required result.

Add to the fact that several options in attack and midfield ended up unused during the tie with the likes of creative midfielder Dylan de Bruycker and highly rated forward Mark Hartmann not seeing action in the fixture, shows that head coach Risto Vidakovic still has something up his sleeves heading into their next challenge in Thailand.

Seamless defense to attack transition

The busmen also demonstrated their signature knack for utilizing the ball well in a sense that building attacking plays from the defensive line seems to be fluid which gives significant credit to the defenders who are comfortable with the ball, and a very capable anchor provided by defensive midfielder Takashi Odawara.

Ceres’ ability to keep and distribute the ball well upfield from the backline is a testament to the club’s utilization of the midfield as an effective channel in helping create opportunities for the frontline.

Bannered by the leadership of veteran midfielder and captain Stephan Schröck who could operate as a “free radical” in the middle of the park with the role as one of the main catalysts on the offensive end, Ceres’ midfield definitely is its main power source that drives the entire black and yellow juggernaut forward.

Worrisome finishing

Obviously the first major concern shown by the busmen was their finishing, which leaves much to be desired. For the duration of the match, particularly in the first half, Ceres-Negros spurned some good chances that could have put them at least with a five goal-advantage and may have put the tie to end early, even if Shan United were able to register a few goals later on.

However, because of the wasted efforts, Ceres, can only maintain a two-goal lead in the match, making the business end of the clash against Shan United very much tense and in the balance when the visiting side were able to convert a second goal for a thrilling 3-2 finish with the hosts just doing enough to hold on for the win.

First-game jitters and rustiness may have come into play for Ceres’ forwards, understandably so in this situation, but with the icebreaking match already done, the need to be sharper is definitely paramount heading into their away match against a possibly tougher proposition against Thai FA Cup champions Port FC in less than a week’s time.

An unsettled defense

In the second half, Shan United were given hope when on several occasions, the Ceres-Negros backline was caught flat-footed, eventually leading to two goals by the Burmese champions that contributed for a nervy finish to the fixture.

With Carlie De Murga’s departure, the onus is on the remaining defenders and the newcomers to sync-in with each other and establish a reliable defense.

Super Herrera also seemed to have suffered a knock during the match that contributed to more lethargic marking, and if Super will not be 100 percent come the next match, it could be a main concern for coach Risto Vidakovic to maintain an effective line of defense.

Lack of match-fitness

Lastly it was obvious that the busmen came up short in sustaining the needed intensity from kickoff to the final whistle.

As the second half wore on, so did Ceres-Negros’ form. Such a dip in the busmen’s performance gave Shan United the opportunity to pounce on the slack they saw with the Burmese club’s pacy forwards, particularly Liberian Keith Nah, who marauded the host team’s flanks in the last throes of the match.

Such lack of fitness (which the coaching staff is probably anticipating already) is something that the team should be focused on heading into their match against Port FC in Thailand. Even though the Thai FA Cup champions may also have the same predicament having only a friendly match against Police Tero the past few days with the domestic league in Thailand yet to begin until February, it would be important for the Philippine champions to address this matter, easier said than done though, due to the domestic season is yet to begin in two months time.

Photo credit: Glen Charles Lopez / Ceres-Negros FC

Copa Alcantara: Ceres-Negros deals Young Azkals’ first loss

An unrelenting second half from the undefeated Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros dealt the Azkals U22 their first loss in the Copa Paulino Alcantara with a 2-1 scoreline.

The first half started with the national squad showing a more positive approach with their pressing gameplay spearheaded by Chima Uzoka as the focal point in attack.

The Philippines 11 also came up with lively support from both wings as Mariano Suba and Yrick Gallantes providing the pace from both flanks.

After the quarter of an hour Ceres were able to settle a bit into their gameplay producing some half-chances which goalkeeper Anthony Pinthus was able to deal with.

The Young Azkals continued to push forth with their relentless pressing and pace with Jasrvey Gayoso also providing additional threat with an occasional chance.

The breakthrough arrived in the half hour mark with the pacy Yrick Gallantes finding the back of the net off a rebound from his own initial attempt with Gayoso as provider.

With the deadlock, broken the Under-22 side continued with their probing while Ceres came up, uncharacteristically, with a few opportunities with Maranon trying to create something from deep.

But Gallantes’ conversion proved to be the difference in the first half as time expired with the Philippine Team enjoying a slim lead heading into the break.

A different situation transpired early in the second half as Ceres-Negros quickly seized the proceedings by imposing themselves to great effect.

Robert Lopez Mendy suddenly came to life sparking his team up front. But it was Dylan De Bruycker who gave the Busmen a crucial lifeline in the 51st minute by burying the equaliser from an angle that beat U22 captain Pinthus for the first time.

Ceres-Negros seemed to have smelled blood after the leveller as Mike Ott saw an attempt go wide of the far post while Mendy had two chances in the in the 67th and 74th minute.

Four minutes before the 90th minute Ceres-Negros found the go-ahead goal as Mendy headed Angelo Verheye’s assist from the left flank.

The Young Azkals tried to claw back for a draw, attacking with much intent but it wasn’t meant to be with Ceres even having a chance to increase their lead late in the match only for Pinthus to come up with an excellent save to deny OJ Porteria from point-blank range.

Photo credit: Ceres-Negros FC

pfl2019-ceres-negros-set-sights-copa-alcantara

After ‘Invincible’ league campaign, Ceres players hint at winning double

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.

Photo credit: Philippines Football League

Former Kaya striker Robert Mendy joins Ceres-Negros

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.

Photo credit: Kaya FC Iloilo

former-kaya-fc-iloilo-striker-robert-lopez-mendy-joins-malaysia-premier-league-club-uitm

Transfer news: Former Kaya FC forward Robert Lopez Mendy joins Malaysia Premier League club UiTM

Kaya FC Iloilo’s 2018 top goalscoring Senegalese striker, Robert Lopez Mendy has joined Malaysia Premier League club Universiti Teknologi MARA Football Club [UiTM] for the 2019 season.

The 31-year-old actually suited up for the Shah-Alam, Selangor-based club last January 26, 2019 in a 3-0 friendly loss against Patrick Reichelt’s new club, Melaka United.

It is not yet confirmed if there has already been a formal unveiling of this acquisition on the part of UiTM, but according to Kaya FC head coach, Noel Marcaida, as far as the Iloilo club is concerned, the player is already signed to the Malaysian club.

UiTM are about to begin their 2019 campaign in an away fixture on February 1, 2019 against Persatuan Bolasepak Polis Di-Raja Malaysia (Royal Malaysia Police Football Association or PDRM in short).

Robert Lopez Mendy had a stellar 2018 season by scoring more than 20 goals in all competitions for a total of 51 career goals for the club and helping Kaya FC Iloilo win the Copa Paulino Alcantara en-route to AFC Cup 2019 qualification.

Photo credit: UiTM Facebook Page