MANILA-- They are just within reach of making history.
League leaders Global are now within striking distance of being the third UFL side to achieve the Double, after blanking a hapless Stallion side for three unanswered goals late Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Stadium
Ivorian forward Arthur Kouassi duly answered the call for manager John Burridge, stepping up big-time for the suspended Misagh Bahadoran with a first-half brace to put them into 44 points, nine points way ahead of closest pursuers Ceres with just two matches left.
A second-half free kick by Omid Nazari and a clean sheet for Patrick Deyto were the other bright spots for Global as they quickly brushed aside Wednesday's shocking setback to JP Voltes with a convincing shutout as they only needed at least of a draw against Laos on Sunday to finally get what is denied to them five years ago.
"But it's not all over yet. We can't take Laos for granted. We need one point. And I will not rest until we get that one point," the English journeyman talked to the media after the match.
Knowing that they only need four points in their last three matches, Global went to work right away and were rewarded by the former Jeepney marksman just 27 minutes in by pouncing on a Nazari chance to rebound the ball past Ref Cuaresma.
Kouassi could have doubled their lead ten minutes later, but muffed his shot in front of the goal to send it wide to the right side.
But hard work deserves to be rewarded and it paid off for the Ivorian just seconds before halftime as he pounced on a Serge Kaole throw-in and blasts the ball from a tight angle to complete his brace, getting Global virtually a hand on the trophy.
Deyto got one huge save in each half to get his clean sheet, thwarting his former La Salle teammate Nate Alquiros in the 26th, then followed by a acrobatic stop on Carlo Polli's free kick in the 79th minute that could have changed the outcome had it come in.
"Our goalkeeper [Deyto] was magnificent, because he made one fantastic save in the first half. That would have put them [Stallion] 1-0 up. And he made a terrific save from a free kick which could have made 2-1 it would have been panic stations," the Global boss who is a goalkeeper himself during his playing years added.
Six minutes after Deyto stopped Polli, Nazari sealed all three points with a dipping free kick that left the former Loyola custodian stranded in his place.
"That was a hard game. The plan was we don't concede a goal. We keep a clean sheet. As long as we win this game," Burridge concluded.
MANILA-- Ceres' dreams to return to Asian football next season got a huge boost late Saturday afternoon, after dispatching title rivals Loyola, 4-1 in a battle between the league's number two and three here at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. The Bacolod Busmen recovered from a stinging loss to Kaya last week just in time, with Stephan Schröck notching a hat-trick and Manny Ott netting a goal of his own to save Risto Vidaković's job as the champions overtaken Loyola in second with 35 points on the league table.
Loyola started the match at the wrong foot and they were made to pay for it dearly, as Simon Greatwich's consolation strike two minutes before full time was not enough for them, dragging the Sparks down to fourth, a point behind idle JP Voltes who just came from a shock win over league leaders Global.
Simon McMenemy took a huge gamble in putting Jake Morallo and Anto Gonzales in the full-back slots and elevating last Sunday's match-winner Koichi Belgira in the left wing. Ceres meanwhile, welcomes the return of goalkeeper Louie Casas and skipper Kim Sang-min to the starting fold for the suspended Val Kama, partnering them with Jason Sabio in the central defence.
However, it was the on-loan dynamo who shone the brightest early on, as he fired a free kick that left Gui Hasegawa stranded to put Ceres on the board first just eight minutes in.
And it only took twelve minutes for Schrocky to get his brace, as he fired a left foot past the shellshocked netminder to double the champion's advanta in the match, before the left post denied him of a hat-trick heading into the halftime break.
Manny Ott made sure of getting all three points just six minutes into the restart with a flick to the far post past the Brazilian for a 3-0 lead. And with just six minutes before full time, Schrocky completed his hat trick with his shot to Hasegawa's left post to add salt into the woods.
The youngest of the Greatwich siblings wrecked Casas's pursuit of the clean sheet with a close range hit but it was not meant to be for the one-time cup holders as they failed to repeat their opening day win over Ceres last April 30.
Vidaković lauded the fortitude of his men to recover in time after a crushing loss last week.
"It was crucial today. If we lose, that's the league [season] for us. We have three games left and we try to give our best," the Serbian tactician spoke to the press after the match. http://www.dugout.ph/2016/09/schrocky-putting-on-show-as-ceres-runs.html
GAME seven may be the two best words in sports. But its best moment always happens when it transcends competition.
As the UFL League nears its conclusion, a two clubs are set to head down south to not just shake the table but also give hope to a conflict-stricken part of the country.
Loyola-Meralco FC, which sits at third place of the 12-team table, will face seventh-place Green Archers United in Zamboanga City as part of the initiative called “Football for Peace.”
Not only will the two teams try to improve their standings in the table, the players will also conduct clinics for 200 kids in the area.
Belay Fernando, the assistant general manager of the Sparks, said Football for Peace was conceptualized back in 2011 when the Philippine Marine Corps stationed in Mindanao wanted to help kids in conflict-riddled areas.
“They (the Marines) wanted to promote sports specifically football to the kids who are used to a certain way of life,” said Fernando Thursday night on SportsIQ, Inquirer’s live omni platform sports talk show. “They’re more prone to carrying guns than books, guns than soccer balls.”
Sparks head coach Simon McMenemy, who went to Tawi-Tawi in 2015 with his team, said such clinics are used to give the kids opportunities to develop not only their sporting abilities but also their social skills.
“You go to these clinics, you’re not looking to go find David Beckham you’re going to go down there and give opportunities for kids to play together especially in that part of the world you’ve got rival families, you’ve got rival towns, you’ve got so much rivalry going all over the place,” said McMenemy. “To be involved in a project that promotes that and be able to do that for the Philippines was a real honor for a foreigner coming into a country.”
Sparks midfielder James Younghusband said their first game in Zamboanga has the potential to further promote football in the country, a nation obsessed with basketball.
“People in Zamboanga get to experience football for the first time, and that’s one of our goals to promote the sport,” said Younghusband.
Green Archers striker Chieffy Caligdong playing in Zamboanga is their part in helping Mindanao achieve peace.
In 2013, Zamboanga became a combat zone when renegade members of the Moro National Liberation Front attacked the city, killing 220, including 12 civilians.
“Playing football in Zamboanga City, we would be able to touch everybody’s lives and yung kids para ma-inspire sila and para sa mga tao na ma-encourage maglaro ng football,” said Caligdong.
The U19 Women’s team withdraws from the AFC U19 Women’s Championship as a result of conflict with college schedules. While the PFF maintains its objective of progressing football through international competitions, it should be education at the top of the player’s priorities.