AN hour after Global’s sleepy 2-0 win against Ceres Negros, we were talking about the home game in the semis against FC Meralco Manila with some coaches. The two-legged semis gives the higher seeded team the option to choose which leg to choose.
“I hope Meralco choses to host first since CCSC won’t be available and at least, the field could rest too,” one FA official said.
I said, “If I was Meralco, I’d choose to host the second, so you’d be home for that crucial second leg, when you already know whether you play defensive or go all out for a win.”
It never really crossed my mind then that there won’t be a home game because I sort of have forgotten about that until the next day, when I received an email from the PFL announcing the fixtures for the semis and there it was--Global vs. Meralco will be played Rizal only, with Global as the “home” team for the first leg tomorrow.
Away goals are crucial in two-legged playoffs since it is the first tie-breaker if after the first two games, both teams are equal on aggregate.
That the home fans are disappointed is an understatement as we’ve all been looking forward to a competitive semifinal match ever since that sleepy Classico with Ceres last Nov. 28. Sure, Global won but that a section of the crowd booed both teams showed how the picky Cebuano fans were not pleased.
It seemed the two teams were just in a scrimmage and both coaches admitted as much. Both teams were in teh semis already and that game was really non-bearing; so why risk an injury or suspension on a star player before the crucial semis?
Though Ceres had a real chane at finishing first in the league, there was no incentive for them to go out with a win. If finishing first meant an automatic berth in the AFC competition, that would have been a different story.
I think next season, the PFL will do away with the play-off format as in a post about 2018, they were discusing the league and cup fixtures, so that means that the two AFC spots would go to the league and cup champions, unlike this year.
Next season, too, aside from venue availabilty, the PFL and Global should look at the sporting calendar of Cebu so it won’t clash with other big events like they did this year for the Ironman and the Milo marathon.