BANGKOK (29 Oct 2016) – The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) will be hosting two Futsal tournaments in 2017 as the federation continue to show their commitment to developing the five-a-side indoor game.
The postponed 2016 edition of the AFF Futsal Championship will now be played in early January 2017.
This was decided and agreed upon by the AFF Council – who had their 7th meeting here in Bangkok – and the FA of Thailand (FAT).
The FAT were supposed to host the AFF Futsal Championship 2016 on 30 October to 8 November. But due to the passing of His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, the event was called off. Efforts to find a replacement hosts proved futile due to time constraint.
In the meantime, the 2017 edition of the AFF Futsal Championship will be hosted by Vietnam on 1-11 November.
The event will also be used as the qualifying round of the AFC Futsal Championship 2018.
Thailand will also be hosting the AFF Invitational Futsal Club Championship slated for 3-10 April 2017 and the AFF Women’s Championship, pegged for March 2017.
Laos will be hosting the AFF Under-15 Women’s Championship in either April or May while Myanmar have taken up hosting the AFF Under-18 Championship on 4-17 September 2017.
There’s still no confirmation yet on the hosts for the AFF Under-15 Championship and also the AFF Beach Soccer Championship.
At the same meeting too, the AFF Council observed a minute silence as they pay their respects to the passing of the King of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej.
(Saturday, 29 October, 5.00pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
RHB Singapore Cup 2014 champions Balestier Khalsa will be hoping to restore pride when they take on Philippines’ club Ceres La Salle in the third placing match at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.
The Tigers had earlier ended their eight-game winless run in all competitions with a 2-0 victory against Brunei DPMM in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League season final match, and beating the Busmen will be the perfect way to end their season.
Marko Kraljevic’s charges will face a Ceres’ squad that are missing three key players due to suspensions. Although the trio, Carlos De Murga, Paul Mulders and Martin Steuble are regulars for the Busmen, Balestier cannot afford to be complacent as the United Football League outfit are keen to pick up the third placing honours.
Ceres’ coach Risto Vidakovic will need to contemplate on the tactical changes he needs to make and map out his team’s winning formula following their recent 1-0 slip to JP Voltes in their domestic league which could have dampened his players’ spirits and preparation efforts for this clash.
Despite their recent setback, Ceres have been on a bountiful scoring spree lately, tallying 28 goals in their last six domestic league matches.
Tiger’s coach Kraljevic is well aware of the scoring threats from Stephan Schrock and Bienvenido Morejon, but he is determined to patch this season up on a winning note.
“We’re upset not to play in the (Singapore Cup) final and now we want to win and finish third with a medal.
“Everyone has to work hard and winning this final game is very important as it is a good build up for next season and it adds confidence to the team,” said Kraljevic.
This contest will also draw attention to both ends of the pitch as Schrock (Ceres) who has bagged six goals, and Niko Tokic (Balestier) with three goals to his name, will go head to head, in not only lifting their side to a silverware but finishing as the competition’s top scorer.
Unfazed by Ceres’ and the current Singapore Cup top scorer, Kraljevic continued,“We have kept a clean sheet in our previous game against DPMM and we defended really well against (S.League top scorer) Rafael Ramazotti. So if we can deal with him (Ramazotti), we can cope with Schrock.”
Suspensions: Nurullah Hussein (Balestier Khalsa); Carlos De Murga, Paul Mulders and Martin Steuble (all Ceres La Salle)
JP Voltes FC star Nelson Gasic revels on his ascent as the top goalkeeper in the recently concluded 2016 season of the United Football League (UFL).
Gasic, who headlined for the Lyceum of the Philippines University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, played a major role in the defense of Voltes.
He boasts of a total of 10 clean sheets in 19 allowing just 16 goals throughout their 2016 campaign.
The Baguio City native said that he did not expect to clinch the Best Goalkeeper trophy with the presence of top foreign and local booters in the unified division of the UFL.
“This was unexpected. I did not expect to get this award. I can’t say anything and I’m just speechless,” Gasic said in Filipino.
After snatching the same award in the second division in the previous year, he earned the distinction of besting top goalies Patrick Deyto of Global FC and Michael Casas of Ceres La Salle FC for the plum.
Gasic said that he played without a backup during most of the season claiming that it served as a motivation every outing.
“This is something I really want to achieve since the first round. We have no substitute goalkeeper for the greater part of the season so I really needed to play every 90 minutes even if I get injured,” he said.
According to Gasic, it was hard to play all 90 minutes knowing that there will be no substitute for his position but reiterated all the hard work was worth it.
JP Voltes, a former second tier club, finished fourth this year with a record of 13 wins, two draws and four losses for a total of 41 points.
They managed to post wins against top domestic football squads including eventual champion Global FC, which they beat 2-0, on September 21.
“Even if we just got the fourth place in the league, our coach told us that we did our best. This win is not just for us but also for our fans and those who kept on supporting us,” Gasic concluded.
Bursting out of the shadows of his more heralded teammates, midfielder Hikaru Minegishi completed Global’s domination of the United Football League 2016 season by capturing the Golden Ball as the top player of the league.
Playing second fiddle to skipper Misagh Bahadoran in the UFL Cup, the Japan-raised Minegishi, whose mother hails from Olongapo, stood at the forefront of Global’s long and gruelling campaign, serving as linchpin of the attack by firing 18 goals.
“I didn’t expect this,” said Minegishi. “I just wanted to help Global to win this season.”
Global failed to win a single trophy last season, but bounced back this year, piling up 47 points from 19 matches to complete a rare League and Cup double.
JP Voltes stunned Ceres-La Salle, 1-0, on the final day of the season to finish fourth with 41 points. Ceres-La Salle and Loyola also wound up with 41 points, but the Busmen earned second place and an AFC Cup berth due to their superior goal difference.
Other awardees: Global’s Matthew Hartmann, best midfielder; Masaki Yanagawa of JP Voltes, best defender; Nelson Gasic of JP Voltes, best goalkeeper; Adrian Gallardo of Ceres, Golden Boot (30 goals).
Ceres-La Salle FC succumbed to a 0-1 defeat against an inspired JP Voltes squad but still claimed second spot in the final day of the United Football League. Allen Angeles made the difference in the first half to secure the win for team who finished a surprising fourth in the league.
With Stallion FC holding Loyola to a draw the night before, the second spot was secured for Ceres regardless of the result of the final game. The Busmen were assured of a second spot because of a superior goal difference. JP Voltes came out with more urgency in the match getting the better chances in the first half.
Things went south for Ceres after a high challenge by Stephan Schrock on Camelo Tacusalme forced referee Steve Suprecencia to hand out a red card to the Azkals player in the 29th minute. The Japanese-flavored side pounced on the advantage and scored five minutes from the half with Takumi Uesato’s brilliant shot that forced goalkeeper Michael Casas into a good save. The rebound however taken by an unmarked Angeles who made no mistake in front of goal.
Ceres came out strong early in the second half, dominating possession and even and forcing JP Voltes keeper Nelson Gasic to quality saves. The rest of the match was an end-to-end affair with both squads getting their own chances, but Voltes held on for their first win against the 2015 UFL champions.
The Bacolod squad received their second place trophy in the awarding ceremonies after the match to complete a long and grueling season in Philippine soil. Ceres will complete their final assignment on October 29 in Singapore where they will face Balestier Khalsa in the third-place match in the Singapore Cup.
MANILA-- Even though they are way behind of champions Global, Stallion showed why they are still one of the UFL's elite clubs, forcing a more favored Loyola side to a four-goal stalemate to cap off the penultimate matchday of the league Saturday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium Ernest Nierras' men played like a true workhorse and were duly rewarded by their all-out play, with goals by Fitch Arboleda and skipper Ruben Doctora, coupled by superb goalkeeping by Ref Cuaresma, power the 2013 double winners into a spoiler's role with a shocking 2-2 draw over their more fancied opponents to end the season on 31 points. Simon Mcmenemy's final match for the Sparks ended in whimper when they were forced to peg back on level terms twice, but they could not find a winner as the mad rush to second and the spot to next season's AFC Cup practically ended here tonight, with Loyola finished their domestic season on 41 points, tied with Ceres but had an inferior goal difference over the Busmen who will even play fourth-placed JP Voltes tomorrow afternoon. Stallion proved a tough nut to crack early on, with Arboleda scored the match's first just seconds after the opening whistle, beating Loyola netminder Ace Villanueva to the bottom left corner of the net.
Since then, both sides played at equal pace with each other, with possessions equally split between them that negated their gap in the league table.
Loyola then equalized deep into added time, when David Basa inadvertedly handled Simon Greatwich's shot into his own net that left Nierras bemused at the break.
But Doctora made amends for the animated manager in the 53rd minute, giving the lead back for the Stallions by beating Anto Gonzales on the counter and slots the ball low for 2-1 but that was cancelled out by Greatwich twelve minutes later with a cracking shot from outside.
However, it was the former Loyola number one who made the day for Stallion, capping off with a double save off Daniel Gadia and Joaco with just three minutes left in the clock.
National football team coach Thomas Dooley stood restless at the touchline, shouting instructions amid the heavy downpour.
While the Philippines was only playing a friendly match against North Korea, what was happening on the Rizal Memorial Stadium pitch worried him so much he exposed himself to the elements rather than find shelter on the bench like his Korean counterpart.
The match was difficult to watch. The Azkals chased shadows and looked like they were ready to concede a goal each time the enemy pushed the ball forward. Offensively, the Azkals couldn’t conjure a clear-cut chance.
In the end, the Filipinos looked spent and lacked ideas in the 1-3 defeat—their second in as many matches after the 1-2 loss to Bahrain five days before. Pundits agreed the team showed little fight and urgency.
With only a few weeks before the Azkals embark on their toughest challenge yet, Dooley is in a quandary about how he could field his best squad for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup, which the country will be hosting for the first time from Nov. 19 to 26 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.
A stroke of misfortune has marred the Azkals’ preparations. The retirement of some of the squad’s most experienced defenders early this year and injuries to a couple of regulars have forced the German-American coach to dig deep into his side. The transition has been difficult, to say the least, and the Azkals’ inability to play for three months after their stunning win over North Korea in World Cup Qualifying stunted their progress.
“If the Suzuki Cup starts tomorrow, that would be a concern for me,” says Dooley. “But we have time to change that, time to think of different ways. If you want to make everyone happy, play against a team we can beat and everybody will think that the preparations is perfect. But we want to play against better teams.”
“We don’t have to panic,” says Dooley. “We made those games (friendlies against Bahrain and North Korea) to see what we are doing wrong. You don’t find out those when you win 3-0. It’s a reality check.”
Dooley may sound defiant, but the concern is undeniable. The pressure is mounting on him and the Azkals to finally deliver a major trophy for the country. Interest in the team is dwindling as proven by attendance in recent matches. The Azkals are no longer the hottest ticket in town.
But three straight AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal appearances, starting from that miraculous run in 2010 in Vietnam, and home-field advantage for the first time in the group stages also put the Azkals as a favorite to advance from Group A, which also includes defending champion Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. There’s also the small matter of being the top-ranked team in Southeast Asia, which the Azkals feel they can reinforce with a Cup title.
Help is on the way, though.
Javier Patino, who is finding his form late in the season in the Chinese Super League, will play in the Suzuki Cup for the first time since joining the Azkals in 2014.
But while there’s a wealth of attacking talent in the team, it’s in defense where the Azkals were exposed to be lacking in their last two games. Slow to react, disorganized and caught out of position, the current backline, anchored by the 21-year-old Amani Aguinaldo, has been a far cry from the solid defensive units of years past.
Simone Rota, Aguinaldo’s partner in central defense, recently underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL, while leftback Daisuke Sato remains unlikely to suit up since he now plays in Romania.
Neil Etheridge, who is having the season of his career at Walsall in the English third tier, is also out for the Suzuki Cup, opting to focus on his club career.
Dooley has been left with midfielders Kenshiro Daniels, Martin Steuble and Dennis Villanueva as options for the back line. The Azkals’ success will hinge on how quickly they adjust to their roles.
The midfield combinations are also dodgy, especially since Phil Younghusband is now playing a more defensive role. Younghusband isn’t only the country’s top international scorer with 42 goals, but he is also one of the most experienced players in the squad, much like older brother, James, whose national team career has been reinvigorated following a string of strong performances.
Phil, who will be coming off a gruelling UFL season with the Loyola Meralco Sparks apart from his work with The Younghusband Football Academy, is a proven scorer at the Suzuki Cup level. James, who made his debut in 2006 against Malaysia in Bangkok, provides the size and aerial threat.
“It’s important that we think what’s the best team we can put out and what do we have to do to win the games,” says Younghusband. “We’re going into the games trying to win. We’re not going to go to the semifinals and think that it’s okay if we lose, or if we get to the finals, we think we’ve done well and this is fine. I think it’s important to prepare and know what you are going into.”
Striker Misagh Bahadoran admits that it has been tough for the team this year.
“I believe we have a team that is good enough to challenge for the Suzuki Cup title, though,” he says. “We have players who are committed to work hard and fight for the country.”
Time is not on Dooley’s side, however. The Azkals still have one more friendly, against Kyrgyzstan, on Nov. 9 that will give the coach the opportunity to finalize his squad. Between now and Nov. 19, when the Azkals open their campaign against Singapore, the team will be under scrutiny, the margin for error getting smaller with each passing day. The time for experimentation is over.
But the Azkals have been through worst. And for a team that thrives on adversity, it will be difficult to count them out.
“We cannot discount the team’s ability to adjust and be resilient, especially when the stakes are high,” says Azkals manager Dan Palami. “Time and again, our team has shown that they can rise above adversity.”
We wish to advise all football enthusiasts that the International Friendly Match between the Philippines and Kyrygzstan will be held on Wednesday, 09 November 2016, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila. Kick-off is at 8:00pm.
Tickets are sold via TicketWorld thru its online booking and major ticket outlets starting 12:00 noon today, 21 November 2016.
Tickets prices are:
Category 1 – Php 500.00
Category 2 – Php 300.00
Category 3 – Php 100.00
We invite all to support our National Team and watch the match live at the stadium!
Ceres-La Salle will play their most important game of the season and in front of them is the in form JP Voltes FC.
What’s at stake is the coveted AFC Cup slot in the tournament where Ceres still has unfinished business after bowing out in the round of sixteen against Hong Kong’s South China.
Both teams had a thrilling encounter in the first round when Ceres overcame 1-2 halftime lead to complete an epic 4-2 win led by Stephan Schröck.
Ceres will need a win to cement their place in Asia’s second tier club tournament. Loyola will play Stallion the day prior and a loss or a draw by the third place team will automatically put Ceres in second place.
The match kicks off at 5pm and will serve as the lone match before the league awards are given out at 7pm.
The Philippine Azkals once again topped the latest Fifa (international football association) rankings among Southeast Asian teams, but manager Dan Palami stressed the need to reinforce that status in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup next month.
Despite two losses early this month to Bahrain (1-3) and North Korea (1-3), the Azkals still managed to move up one notch to No. 124 as the rankings also take into account results of the past three years.
But Palami said the rankings count for nothing now, especially if the Azkals underperform in the Suzuki Cup which the country is hosting for the first time.
“The rankings won’t count if we don’t play well in the Suzuki Cup,” Palami told the Inquirer. “At the end of the day, the Suzuki Cup is the barometer as to who is the best team in Southeast Asia.”
From underdogs in 2010 when they stunned Vietnam on their way to the Last Four for the first time, the Azkals are now one of the favorites after three straight semifinal appearances in the biennial tournament.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley, however, expressed concern over the team’s performance against Bahrain and North Korea as the squad struggled defensively. They are short on options in defense following the retirement of several key players as well as injuries and club commitments.
The Azkals still have one friendly match—against Kyrgyzstan—to address their weaknesses before battling Singapore on Nov. 19 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan. They also take on Indonesia on Nov. 22, before wrapping up their group assignments versus defending champion Thailand three days later.
Vietnam, which is seeing action in Group B with Malaysia, Myanmar and the top team in the qualifying round, is the second-ranked team in the region at No. 138, followed by Thailand at No. 146.
MANILA, Philippines - Higher-ranked Kyrgyzstan will provide the Philippine Azkals another big test and good workout ahead of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup when they clash again in an international friendly on Nov. 9 at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The 108th-ranked Kyrgyz will actually fly to Manila all the more determined to win and get back at the 125th-ranked Pinoy booters, who dealt them a 1-2 home loss in their Sept. 6 friendly over in Bishek.
The Azkals, for their part, will seek to score a repeat and a confidence-booster following their disappointing 1-3 setbacks to Bahrain and North Korea in their recent friendlies, also at the Rizal pitch.
“There’s one game to go before the Suzuki Cup and it will be nice to win it to get confidence back in the team going into the Suzuki Cup,” said Iain Ramsay.
The Pinoy booters are expected to return to training camp in the last week of October in the final push for the Asean tournament, which the country will be hosting for the first time beginning Nov. 19 at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan.
“Everybody can see we have a lot to do but still enough time to learn from our mistakes, improve some things, and get better, fitter, and fresher (for the Suzuki Cup),” said Stephan Schrock.
Phl XI is bunched with champion Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia in Group A of the Suzuki Cup, aiming to make the most of the home advantage to advance to the semis for the fourth straight tournament and eventually the finals.
The Suzuki Cup, the region’s premier tournament for football, is primarily credited for the resurgence of the sport here in the country.
After a breakthrough performance six years ago, it brought the Azkals, our national squad, on equal footing with other teams like Gilas Pilipinas.
Players like Phil and James Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong, and Neil Etheridge became household names.
The Younghusband brothers will again be competing, Chieffy has retired from international competition and is now on the coaching staff. Neil was raring to be on the squad, but because of duties with his domestic league in the UK, he will not be able to tend the goal in the Azkals campaign.
Here are his thoughts as the Suzuki Cup hits town in a few weeks, with our country hosting the event for the very first time.
PHILIPPINE STAR: It must be tough for you to be missing another Suzuki Cup.
NEIL ETHERIDGE: It’s disappointing for me on a personal level because the experiences that I gained from that cup competition when I was younger were second to none, the atmosphere, the intensity, and the teams pulling together to gain victory.
Is it even more disheartening that this year it’ll be played in Manila?
The competition being played on home soil, of course, is even more frustrating, but there’s nothing I can do about the games being held outside international dates so I try not to think about the situation, but no doubt I will be watching and cheering the Azkals on from England.
The supporters in Manila will play a large factor, getting behind the team and cheering it on, acting as the 12th player. Our past home performances have been good so I hope that this can continue into the Suzuki Cup.
But the squad looks solid, despite your absence.
The team has looked strong and resilient in the past games that I played in. I know we still have some injuries, but the squad has looked compact and together with a great changing room atmosphere which plays a big part.
Your advice to the Azkals?
I don’t think it really matters what group we were drawn into, both look extremely hard, maybe with our group being slightly more difficult. I believe the team needs to really take each game on its own merit. Each individual game will be tough and have its own hurdles to jump.
But thinking about the semi-finals too early may be a downfall.
First, the team will need to concentrate on getting out of the group and then have a strategy, playing both home and away, in the knockout rounds.
On a personal note, how are you doing in your domestic league?
The season started with a great win, followed by a few results that didn’t go our way, but I could see potential. The team is completely new from last year, very young and some with minimal experience.
As the season goes on, I’m sure we will gel even more on the field, as behind the scenes, the team has a great work ethic and atmosphere.
On a personal level, I have been playing well and I know I need to keep it up throughout the season to play my part in this team. The league this season is extremely hard. Former Premier League side Bolton was unbeaten until it came to our place. And that also shows maybe the importance of home court advantage.
After two years of draws and losses, Ceres-La Salle finally exorcised their Global ghost by crushing the recently crowned league champions 5-0 last October 16 at the Rizal Stadium. Adrian Gallardo topscored with a brace with three other players scoring a goal each.
The Bacolod squad came in the match with the desire to win as a loss would derail the goal of getting the AFC Cup spot which awarded to number two team in the league. It was Ceres who started to threaten early in the 8th minute when Stephan Schrock’s shot from past the half-line beat Global keeper Patrick Deyto but unluckily bounced against the crossbar. The Busmen were controlling the match early on but the Global defense were behind the ball. Bienvenido Maranon and Galalrdo would carve their own chances in the first half hour.
Global then started to get more of the ball which resulted to Hikaru Minigeshi getting a free header in the 30th minute which forced Michael Casas to tap it away for safety. The Busmen would open the scoring eight minutes after when Schrock’s corner was headed by Carli de Murga towards Gallaardo who then chested it down and blasted it to the roof of the net. Jeffrey Christaens would double the lead in the 43rd minute when his deep cross had enough english to go past Deyto and into the goal. In injury time, Global’s Arthur Kouassi was sent off after getting his second yellow card due to a bad challenge on de Murga.
Ceres didnt waste time after the restart after Orman Okunaiya tapped in a well-worked cross by Gallardo to push the lead to 3-0 after 48 minutes. They took control of the possession producing good shots from Ott and Gallardo but Deyto was there to produce great saves. Global would have a chance of their own in the hour mark when Minigeshi tried to bend one from outside the box but Casas was there to easily collect.
Global would maintain their defensive effort with Ceres finding it difficult to break through. In the 80th minute, Christaens ran half the field in a counter and crossed to ball to Bienvenido Maranon who made no mistake and pushed the scoreline to 4-0. The 2016 champions tried from the restart to pull a goal back when Minigeshi run lead to a Matt Hartmann shot from the edge of the box that went wide. Moments later it was Christaens again who darted into the left flank, cutting inside and rifling a right footed shot into goal. Deyto tipped the ball up but still rolled towards goal and was tapped in by Gallardo. The Spanish player was however called for offside.
Ceres-La Salle would still push in the dying minutes with Maranon lofting the ball ahead to de Murga, who controlled the ball once and issued a powerful volley which was tapped out by Deyto. The busmen would complete the route when a broken play allowed Marwin Angels to beautifully flicked the ball to Gallardo to smash in the fifth and final goal for Ceres.
“The game was very important for us so the key was defending good, we told (them) before the game, and the guys I think they did very well. So in the second half it was very difficult to speak about the game because they were a man less so the game was over when they received the red card,” said Ceres Coach Risto Vidakovic. “We must win the next game also because its the most important game right now for us and we have one week to prepare (for) it. I hope that we will play like today,” he added.
The win by Ceres has narrowed down the race for second place between them and Loyola Meralco. The Sparks will play Stallion on Saturday and a draw or a loss will automatically put Ceres in second place. Should Loyola win, Ceres will need to beat JP Voltes on Sunday to return to the AFC Cup.
The Loyola Meralco Sparks took an important step in taking second place in the 2016 UFL League after a terrific win against their rival, Kaya FC, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. The victory propelled the Sparks to the runners-up position with 40 points and one game remaining.
Before the match started, Loyola were thrown a curveball, as Guilherme Hasegawa injured himself in the warmup. That meant youngster Ace Villanueva would take over goalkeeping duties in the biggest match of his Sparks career.
As expected, the derby needed little time getting into full swing, with both teams looking to get on the front foot early. 18 minutes in, Jason de Jong came extremely close to opening the scoring. Playing in a more advanced role, the midfielder was given space to dribble to right outside the opposition box, where he unleashed a powerful strike which came off the upright. Minutes after, Kaya came close from a set piece, but Eddie Mallari was there to clear it off the line.
25-minutes into the game, the Sparks found the opener. The sequence started with Tahj Minniecon, who fed the overlapping Kouichi Belgira. The youngster brought it all the way to the end line and sent a cross to Phil Younghusband, who obliged with a powerful strike past Matthew Acton.
The remainder of the opening period was controlled by the Sparks, starving Kaya of any significant chances.
Eight minutes after the break, Loyola doubled the advantage. From a set piece, Phil Younghusband sent a ball towards the back post, where Joaco Cañas was all alone to guide the ball into the net. However, Kaya responded almost immediately. From a counter attack, Jovin Bedic chipped the ball past Villanueva and hit the upright. Eric Giganto gobbled up the rebound to ensure a frantic finish to the match.
Kaya looked to take advantage of the momentum swing, but the Sparks defense held firm. A backline of Anto Gonzales, Cañas, Mallari, Belgira, and Villanueva in goal, simply wouldn’t budge despite the best efforts of Robert Lopez Mendy.
With the win, the Sparks moved closer to the goal of qualifying for the 2017 AFC Cup, and head coach Simon McMenemy was clearly pleased.
“That just came out of sheer hard work and effort. The set piece that we were working on worked really nicely, but we had to be able to keep it (the lead) and I think that second goal is crucial. Kaya always come in strong. They always find a way to get back at you,” said McMenemy.
“I’m just very pleased today. The boys held on and deserved everything they got, absolutely everything they got,” McMenemy added.
With this crucial win in the bag, the Sparks will head on to the final game of the campaign against Stallion next week. Should Ceres-La Salle fail to get three points against Global in their next match, a win against Ernie Nierras’ side would guarantee a second place finish in the League, and with it, AFC Cup football next season.
Bacolod City-based Ceres-La Salle Football Club is ready to apply for a Philippines Football League license that will allow the club to participate in its tournament, which will replace the United Football League as an AFC qualifying event.
Ceres club administrator Nicolas Golez said they will apply for a PFL license and comply with all its requirements in order to compete in a tournament that will give the club a chance to represent the country in the Asian Football Confederation.
But while they are willing to join the PFL and ready to compete under the new league, Golez said the PFF needs to address some gray areas in its proposal before proceeding with the tournament.
“The marketing and sponsorship were not finalized yet. The composition of the six teams needed to start with the new league are not there yet,” Golez said.
In a media briefing of the PFL, PFF General Secretary Edwin Gastanes admitted that not a single club has come forward to apply for the PFL but several have expressed their interest.
With their target date to start on the last week of March or first week of April next year, Gastanes said all interested clubs have until December 31, 2016 to apply for a license.
Gastanes stressed that an applicant club needs to comply with the mandatory requirement in league licensing such as having a home stadium. The PFL, he said, will have a home-an-away format.
The club also needs to submit a financial plan to determine its capability of funding its participation in the league.
“This (PFL) is not a developmental league but a professional league. You have to compute on how much you are going to spend and how much you are going to get in return,” Gastanes said, adding that the clubs will have their share in the broadcast revenues and sponsorships.
“Those who will apply should be serious about it. We will help them find sponsors as we know that without sponsors this (new league) will die. If that is the case, then we are going back to amateur leagues,” Gastanes added.
With the UFL's broadcast contract with TV 5 ending this year, he said there will be no more UFL and the PFF has tapped its president. Randy Roxas, to be part of the PFL task force.*NAB
THE Philippines committed the same mistakes and suffered the same result as it bowed to North Korea, 3-1, in their international friendly on Monday night to come up empty handed in a two-match home stand at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Coming off a loss to Bahrain with the same scoreline last Friday, the Azkals put up another sluggish start as they surrendered two early goals once again before letting the North Koreans pile the pressure with another goal in the second half at the rain-soaked venue.
Iain Ramsay came off the bench and pulled a goal back for the Filipino booters, but it proved too little, too late as they failed to duplicate their stunning 3-2 win over the North Koreans in the World Cup qualifiers last March.
Pak Kwang Ryong broke the Azkals’ defense 11 minutes into the match with a header off a corner, before Pak Song Chol and Jong Gwan also scored for the visitors, past ‘keeper Roland Muller.
The Azkals got in the score sheet courtesy of Ramsay, who came in at halftime and chipped in a goal past the North Korean ‘keeper in the 76th minute.
11 mins 0-1 Pak Kwang Ryong (North Korea)
18 mins James Younghusband out (injury) , Junior Munoz in
38 mins 0-2 Pak Song Chol (North Korea)
Bugas in , Steuble out
68 mins 0-3 Jong Il Gwan
Ramsay in , Ingreso out
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals brace for another tough international friendly tonight as they battle a North Korean side determined to pull off a vengeful victory at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“It will be a good test for us. We know what a good team North Korea is so we expect a tough match,” Azkals skipper Phil Younghusband said yesterday in the pre-match presscon.
The Pinoy booters stunned the Chollima when they squared off last March at the same venue, 3-2 in the process ousting the latter from the third round of the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers. That result is not lost on the visitors.
“We were not happy when we went back home from that game because we lost the game and we lost the chance to go to the next stage and now we’re here again,” said Pak Kwang Ryong through an interpreter.
It will be a reunion of sorts for Azkals coach Thomas Dooley and Jorn Andersen, who assumed the coaching chores for a rebuilding North Korea last May. The two were classmates in a coaching course in Germany in 2001.
“He’s a good friend of mine, we spent months together. He wanted to play against us and we wanted to play against them again so we’re very happy to organize this game,” said Dooley.
“We’ll be happy to beat Thomas Dooley here in Manila and play against a strong Philippine team,” Andersen said.
Both teams are eyeing redemption too after suffering losses in separate friendlies last Friday. Phl XI fell to Bahrain, 1-3, while North Korea bowed to Vietnam, 5-2.
“We lost, 3-1, the result is absolutely not good but with the way we played, the way the team fought, the way I could see some of the changes that I wanted to see come out so that makes me very happy for the future,” said Dooley.
Andersen said it will be a “totally different” North Korea team compared to the one that played in the WCQ.
“I came in May and started building up a new team of young and experienced players and make something new,” said Andersen.
The Philippine National Football Team is scheduled to face North Korea anew in an exhibition game at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila at 8 p.m. today.
After being outplayed by Bahrain in their previous tune-up last Friday, the Azkals will once again face a familiar foe in their last friendly match in the October international window.
The Filipinos and the North Koreans were both housed in Group H in the second round of the joint 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup, which the former finished at third place while the latter ended at the second spot.
The Eastern Asian nation was shocked by the Azkals in their two-game meeting in the continental qualifiers following a scoreless draw in Pyongyang and a 3-2 upset in Manila.
National team star Misagh Bahadoran together with Manuel Ott and Iain Ramsay powered the Philippines in their historic victory over the higher-ranked North Korea in March.
According to former Filipino international Chieffy Caligdong, who currently assists head coach Thomas Dooley in the helm of the squad, changes will be made to the team’s game plan.
“Three or four players got injured in our game against Bahrain, so it is possible that coach Dooley will make changes in our tactics in our game against North Korea,” he said.
Dooley stressed that he has given the players a two-day break before the game to recalibrate their mental conditioning going into the affair.
On the other hand, International football newcomer Mike Ott is expected to headline for the country after scoring the lone goal in the 1-3 defeat against Bahrain together.
Youngsters Danie Gadia, Paolo Bugas and Fitch Arboleda are also slated to boost their side’s roster together with the battle-tested veterans of the Azkals.
The exhibition match is part of the Philippines’ preparations for the upcoming group stage of the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup that will be held in the country in November.
The Azkals will be playing their final friendly match against Kyrgyzstan on November 9 before diving into action against the teams of Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia in the Southeast Asian football championship.