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.
Stephan Schröck’s 52nd minute magic was enough to power Ceres-Negros towards a 1-0 win against Port FC in Bangkok last January 21 and setup an AFC Champions League Qualification Playoffs against FC Tokyo in Japan next week.
The busmen were presented an early threat moments after kick-off when OJ Porteria committed a foul, but Port failed to capitalize on the ensuing freekick.
Hosts and Thai FA Cup champions Port have been in command in the ball possession department in the early proceedings but the Filipino club were able to come up with a few promising moments as well.
But the Port Lions were able to come up with timely threats as the first chance forced Super Herrera to pull off a last ditch clearance, while an overhead attempt by Heberty in the tenth minute called Ceres keeper Roland Müller to action.
Ceres had the best chance in the first quarter of an hour as Bienvenido Maranon unleashed a shot on target inside Port’s box but goalkeeper Worawut Srisupa was equal to it.
After a few more moments, an almost identical play, this time involving Mike Ott who fed to Porteria gave Ceres another golden chance with a well-taken strike but Port’s net minder once again came up with a fine save.
The match experienced a few minutes of end-to-end action as Ceres-Negros eventually showed more attacking impetus, but both sides still remained in a deadlock.
Near the half-hour mark, Stephan Schröck committed a foul that merited a caution, but the free-kick that followed in favor of Port FC flew wide and off-target.
At around the 40th minute mark, a clever play from the hosts found Bordin Phala in the best position to unleash an effort and break the deadlock but the ball sailed high and wide to even bother Müller. That attempt have been the last big chance as half-time arrived with both teams goalless.
In the second half, defender Josh Grommen was introduced for Ceres-Negros, replacing the injured Super as action resumed with Port FC once again showing the initiative in the opening moments.
What followed though was a fortunate run of circumstances for Ceres-Negros as an awarded a corner kick was taken short towards Schröck whose teasing cross deceived Worawut, deflecting the ball into his own net as the visitors drew first blood in the 52nd minute and the busmen’s captain being awarded the goal.
The breakthrough seemed to have opened up the match as both sides had their share of half-chances. But it was the host team that tried to claw themselves back into the tie with some sustained level of pressure.
Port had their most promising attempt when Sergio Suarez was able to head the ball from close-range and unmarked but his effort just flew off target with Müller already beaten.
Despite Port’s constant knocking on Ceres’ door, with substitute Adisak Kraisorn seeing his goal-bound effort denied by the leg of Ceres defender Takashi Odawara near the 80th minute, the visitors were able to weather the storm to get a monumental win against the Thai FA Cup champions and setup a final qualifier playoff date against FC Tokyo in Japan.
Ceres-Negros will next face FC Tokyo away on January 28 for the final qualification for the AFC Champions League Group Stage.
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.
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.
Center Forward: Bienvenido Marañon (Ceres-Negros FC)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.