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Nierras insists Laguna should have been issued late penalty

The controversial play involving Dan Villarico late in the match. Arturo Enriquez/Stallion Laguna FC
By Ivan Saldajeno

BIÑAN--An irate Ernie Nierras showed up at the post-match press conference of the PFL showdown between Stallion Laguna and Ceres Negros on Saturday, insisting that the referee should have called a penalty for the former late into the said match.

The play in question: in the 88th minute, Dan Villarico caught a pass from Ko Kyung-Joon and tried to squeeze in between the double team of Super Herrera and Kota Kawase. Herrera appeared to have tripped Villarico just as the latter already entered the box.

However, the chief official thought Villarico was not fouled and simply let the play continue to the disgust of Laguna and its home turf fans at the Biñan Football Stadium.

"Everybody saw it that the last call was a penalty except the referee. Even Ceres was not complaining. Everybody knows that was a penalty except the referee," Nierras told Dugout Philippines. "Something's wrong. If the central referee misses it, the lines person could have called it too."

Nierras then blasted the officiating in general.

"This is ridiculous. We follow rules and regulations. And then we have this kind of officiating. The referees are even paid more. But what are we getting out of the quality? Nothing. You paid so much money for this kind of officiating," Nierras' rant continued.

He later added that the alleged spotty officiating tainted what could have been a showdown for the ages between the two former UFL champs.

"It was a very good match. The game was open and free-flowing. That's what you wanna see. We see two quality teams fighting for everything. It's a fair match. It was physical, but did you see any fight? No. Both side were for each other, but they respect each other. After the match, we shook hands. That's how it's supposed to be. That's true sportsmanship," Nierras described the match sans the dubious calls and non-calls. "But then, you get this kind of calls. It takes away the beauty of the match. What can we do with the officiating? I don't know."

Bienve Marañon's 28th minute header goal that became the eventual clincher for Negros in its 1-0 win at Laguna turned out to be a missed call as well as Marañon, the recipient of a Stephan Schrock free kick, was in an obvious offside position when Schrock made the free kick.

Nierras would admit that one of his players made an infraction inside the box that should have merited the visiting side a penalty only to be overlooked by the referee. But including the non-call on Villarico, he insisted that two penalties should have been called for them.

"He missed a penalty for Ceres. He missed two for us. It changes the match," Nierras further said. "What can we do? We can only complain, and when we complain, they would tell us that we're bad people again."

He further said that what the alleged spotty officiating could tarnish the future of Philippine football.

"We have so many academies, and then we show these young kids, 'This is how you're supposed to officiate in a highest-level match in the Philippines?'" Nierras continued. "It would have been better if they just left the ball there and both sides just play. No referee. We will be honest with the fouls, the penalties, and everything. No questions asked. But we can't do that in a perfect world."

He even said that the officiating is not worth what the clubs paid for as far as the franchise fees they shelled out just to enter the PFL is concerned.

"This is ridiculous because it's a waste of money and effort," Nierras continued. "You prepare so much, train two hours a day, prepare a game plan. Everybody's prepared. We work on our facilities and make sure the fans are happy. And then this. The fans even want to kill the referee."

Nierras, who is also Laguna's club president, then threatened, "If we have the same officials next year, Stallion will not participate in the PFL."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno