PFL WEEK TWO: Manila, Davao make home debuts in battle of newbies and vets

Photo by Bob Guerrero/FC Meralco Manila. Graphics by Kevin Estrada
By Ferdin Sanchez

The opening weekend of the Philippines Football League was everything but lackluster as the first 4 matches showed why the league will be nothing short of exciting.

Simultaneously kicking-off the league last Saturday were the action-packed match between Ceres Negros and Kaya Makati at UMak Stadium that ended in a 1-1 draw and Meralco Manila’s 5-1 demolition of Stallion Laguna in Biñan.

Meanwhile, newcomers Ilocos United and Davao Aguilas ended their respective debuts in a 1-1 stalemate at the Quirino Stadium in Vigan with Global Cebu edging out a 2-1 win over JPV Marikina in Laguna.

Week 2 presents fresh opportunities for four clubs to build on their decent displays last weekend. There will only be 2 matches played, though, as the games of Global Cebu and Ceres Negros were postponed to later dates to give way for their preparation for their respective ASEAN zonal semis stints.

However this will be a battle between newcomers and seasoned vets pitting each other out for three points and bragging rights. Who will prevail? We'll find out.

MAY 13
Meralco Manila v Ilocos United4 PM
Rizal Memorial
Finally, Rizal Memorial will host a club from the capital as Meralco Manila hosts Ilocos Utd.
Looking at the summary of the final scores of Week 1 would make it seem like the PFL is already on track in making the club football scene in the country more competitive. That is, until you see the capital club shutting Laguna up last week.

The Sparks proved that they were not reliant in their big-name stars Phil and James Younghusband to deliver the goods, as they were relentless in attack with 5 goals coming from 5 different players.

Curt Dizon scored the historic first ever goal of the PFL before Ryota Ishikawa put the Stallions back in level pegging with a fantastic free-kick. However, 4 unanswered goals from Meralco silenced Stallions in their home debut in Biñan.

If that is an indication as to how Meralco will perform on Saturday home debut, Ilocos definitely needs to improve on their performance in last week’s 1-1 draw with Davao.

The Aguilas were undoubtedly on the front foot for most of the match until the boys from the North got lucky on the break as Angelo Marasigan earned a penalty just inside the box that captain John Kanayama converted.

Ilocos must improve on their display if they are to stand any chance against a reinvigorated capital outfit that never looked more potent to challenge for the title this season.

All eyes would be on the pacey Marasigan who shone on the left flank the last time out, as ex-Sparks Graham Caygill, Anton Del Rosario, and goalie Roland Sadia looks to guide their team to a decent result against their former employers.

MAY 14

Davao Aguilas v JPV Marikina
Davao Del Norte Sports Complex, Tagum
For the JPV Marikina to get all three points more than 1,400km away, they have to shut the 3,000 exuberant Davaoenos up in Tagum.
Sunday’s lone match would be a historic one for Philippine football as the country would finally bear witness to the beauty of the wonderful island of Mindanao as the Aguilas are set to play their home debut in the 3000-seater Davao Del Norte stadium in city of Tagum.

Davao’s previous display in Vigan, without a doubt, made their supporters back in the South a little bit more excited about the potential of their team in making a statement in the PFL.

Nate Burkey surprisingly fared well when deployed in midfield – a position he is not used to playing as he is known for being a threat up front – a role 19 year-old Dylan De Bruycker welcomed with open arms after he opened the scoring. The comebacking Gilmar Fernandez also dazzled the crowd with a fantastic display of his trickery and vision.

Meanwhile, JPV would look to bounce back from a hard-fought 1-2 loss to Global Cebu in the opening weekend.

After a goalless first-half, the floodgates were open after the break as Takashi Odawara broke the deadlock. However, a quick one-two punch from the reigning national champs stunned the Marikina side.

It would definitely be an interesting match between two sides that showed promise and potential last weekend.

Follow him on Twitter: @ferdinsanchezz