Ceres blanks Global for PFF title repeat

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Monday, December 23, 2013

DEFENDING champion Ceres-La Salle FC played like the title-holder that they are at Panaad.

And as the representative of Negros Occidental Football Association (NOFA), it lived up to its reputation as the Philippines’ best club today.

The Azkals-laden Global FC of Leyte took it two in a row in the two-leg final series of the PFF-Smart Club Championships, succumbing 1-2 on Thursday and 0-1 in the final day.

J Baguiro, inserted late probably as a strategy like Global's Rufo Sanches coming in the second half, scored the winning goal in the 83rd minute from right corner. Global goalie Dely Roland Sadia got hold of the ball, fall off from his gloves into his foot to close Coach Dan Palami's hope for the Silver Cup weekend.

Baguiro's feat more than confirmed his being the best booter as he was named as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

The defending champion, unlike its first game, displayed the real Ceres’ offense putting early pressure on Global’s defensive line and giving Sadia no respite at the center of the goal.

The Transporters could have earned an early goal with a penalty kick in the 31st minute but Jalsor Soriano's boot hit the goal post to the dismay of the yellow-clad Ceres followers and Negros fanatics at the stands.

Ceres head coach Bernard Ali Go admitted it was a hard fought game. “First, I would like to thank the Lord; second, the management – especially our team manager Leo Rey Yanson (LRY) who has given his all-out support to us for many years without gaining anything," Go said in a post-game interview.

"And third, to the coaching staff and the players, who played 150 percent and died for the ball,” he added.

“In many occasions, we only played with two foreigners because, I believe in the all-Filipino squad. I believed in our players and the coaching staff. I also thank our Korean coach for helping us a lot,” Go said. “This is a product of our hard work as we trained twice a day with only Sundays as rest day.”

When asked if Ceres’ victory made it as the best club in the country, Go replied, “there are lots of best teams here. We just worked hard because in football, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. And, that makes football the best sports in the world. For now, Ceres is the best club for two years in a row.”

Go also acknowledged the performance of Ceres’ backliners. “I think our defenders played very well. Keeper (Michael) Casas played tremendously but, I see his legs are tiring with minutes left in the match. We substituted him as he might commit errors, which was a good decision we made,” the Ceres’ tactician explained.

The Best Goalkeeper or the Golden Glove award went to Casas, who said that it was a sweet victory for them after working hard for the win.

“We offer this victory to God, to our manager LRY, our loved ones, to our coaches and fans,” he added. “I would also like to thank the Ceres-La Salle team and University of St. La Salle for joining this tournament.”

Ceres took home the cash prize of P100,000 and will most-likely represent the country in the forthcoming President’s Cup, an annual international association football competition among domestic clubs run by the Asian Football Confederation.

Global’s owner, team manager and coach Dan Palami thought the match could have gone either way. “They (Ceres) deserved the win. They have their chances to score and we have ours. Unfortunately, they converted while we didn’t. And, like our last game on Thursday, we have lots of missed opportunities,” he said.

“However, at the end of the day there’s only one important statistic – it’s the number of goals made against the other team. Positions, chances and opportunities don’t matter anymore,” he added.

“I congratulate Ceres for the win. They are well-managed and well-coached. I can say that they are the best team now in the Philippines,” Palami said.

Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella, a member of the FIFA TV and Marketing Committee, said that this championship game could have gone either way considering that Global FC is a very strong team.

“We were very lucky and good enough to win two legs. I would like to congratulate the Ceres team in defending the crown and winning it back-to-back. I hope we can keep up the quality of football here in Bacolod,” he said. “I also would like to congratulate the Yanson brothers for keeping the winning tradition.”

“Further, I would like to congratulate Global’s Dan Palami for the sportsmanship and statesmanship,” said Puentevella, who was once a president of NOFA.

Other individual winners were Global’s Mark Hartmann and Angel Guirado for the Golden Boot and Best Midfielder, respectively. Ceres-La Salle’s Carlo Tacusalme was named Best Defender while the champion club was rewarded the Fair Play Award.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 23, 2013.


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