After missed call on goal, GAU coach Villarino thinks PFL needs VAR now

Counted or not? You be the judge. Screenshot from PFL's Facebook page
By Ivan Saldajeno

LIPA—Green Archers United was on track of stunning Kaya Iloilo anew after holding its visitor scoreless for the first 85 minutes not until Jordan Mintah scored the eventual game-winner in the 86th minute to escape with the 1-0 win at the Aboitiz Pitch on Wednesday.

[Related Story: Kaya Iloilo wins at GAU on late Mintah strike]

However, things could have been different if not for what seemed like a missed call on a shot by GAU 20 minutes before Mintah's shot.

In the 66th minute, leftback John Marcellana found some space to fire a rocket goal that got past Kaya Iloilo goalkeeper Ace Villanueva.

"From the middle, nagkaroon ng clearance. Na-control niya and [he] took the long shot," GAU coach Joel Villarino told Dugout Philippines what happened in the said play.

The ball first bounced through the lower part of the top post before hitting the ground.

However, eyewitnesses, especially those who were watching at the side of GAU's attack zone, claimed the ball already breached past the goal line before bouncing back into play.

"Itong mga spectators sa labas, nag-assume sila na mag-call ang referee na counted kasi talagang obviously pumasok: from the bar [it went] inside [the line] then lumabas," Villarino further said. "Right after the game, people from Stallion [Laguna] and Ceres [Negros] said, 'Coach, that was a counted shot.'"

But Assistant Referee Giovanni Lachica failed to recognize the goal and just let the game continue.

"Ang assistant referee na supposedly siya ang mag-decide, naka-focus lang doon sa game at saka yung offside. Di siya naka-focus sa shot, kaya di siya makagibay ng desisyon," Villarino further said.

However, he admitted that his view of the Marcellana shot is not that clear as GAU was seated at the side of the area it was defending.

"Ayaw ko namang mag-predict na goal yun kasi we're not in the right angle," Villarino added. "Everybody's not sure na pumasok siya."

With that said, he believes that this would have been resolved easily if there was a video assistant referee system in place.

"Kung meron sanang record na pwedeng ma-review, baka pwede (contesting the non-call)," Villarino rued. "Ang video talaga ang pinaka-proof kung pumasok siya o hindi."

The clamor to use the VAR technology in the domestic club level play has been rampant since the early days of the PFL especially that many countries are now using it in their own leagues and even in home games of their national teams.

VAR under fire in Premier League

Curiously, the same VAR technology became a subject of controversy during the opening weekend of the Premier League.

The most significant quirks of the system took place in Manchester City's 5-0 road rout of West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero got to take a second penalty attempt after his first spot kick which was saved by West Ham's Lukasz Fabianski was nullified due to the VAR ruling an infraction on Fabianski's teammate Declan Rice for encroaching to the box.

Aguero would drill in the substitute penalty to seal Manchester City's victory to open its title defense.

The incident took place minutes after Gabriel Jesus' shot was nullified due to the VAR calling Raheem Sterling offside by a hairline.

These led to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola thinking that the VAR could ruin the game significantly as seconded by many netizens.

However, West Ham mentor Manuel Pellegrini, despite his player being at the wrong end of the controversial penalty retake, is still keeping faith in the VAR system, citing that the game has become more fast-paced.

Another intriguing VAR call saw Willy Boly being slapped with a handball, denying Leander Dendoncker of a goal.

The call rocked the Leicester-Wolverhampton match at the former's King Power Stadium that ended in a goalless draw.

The International FA Board is set to revisit the regulations of using the VAR, and amendments could be made by March.

The full video of Dugout Philippines' interview with Coach Joel Villarino can be seen below:
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno