'A draw won't work' in 'Copa' semis

Kaya Iloilo and Stallion Laguna are both into the knockout stages of the Copa Paulino Alcantara. Art Enriquez/Stallion Laguna FC (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Stallion Laguna and Mendiola both have what it takes to force Ceres Negros and Kaya Iloilo to drop points respectively as per some of their battles this PFL season where they forced them to draws.

However, a stalemate is not enough anymore in the Copa Paulino Alcantara semifinals as the four squads can only meet two outcomes: a win or a loss.

"A draw won't really work this time," said Stallion Laguna coach Ernie Nierras.

Stallion Laguna gave the reigning PFL champ its two draws in its "invincible" campaign.

Mendiola, on the other hand, handed Kaya Iloilo a goalless draw that derailed the latter's last dash to steal the league title from Ceres Negros.

However, for Ash Flores, it would have been a different story if Mendiola went off to a fiery start offensively.

"Hanggang ngayon, di namin maayos yung problema namin," Flores said, pertaining to Mendiola slowing down in the first 15 minutes of the match.

It was evident in Mendiola's draws in the "Copa" group stages, where the team had to crawl back from 0-2 deficits to split the points with Ceres Negros and guest team Azkals U22.

The latest 2-2 draw on Wednesday night was the pivotal one as Mendiola knocked the U22 Azkals out of playoff contention despite the latter's Chima Uzoka exploding early on.

[Related Story: Mendiola pulls off huge comeback to steal Copa semis spot fom U22 Azkals]

Despite being the second seed in Group B, Stallion Laguna surprisingly has home field edge as its match against Ceres Negros, the top ranked team in Group A, will take place at the Binan Football Stadium.

Meanwhile, Kaya Iloilo, the top seed in Group B, will clash with Mendiola, the second seed in Group A, at the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa.

Both matches will have simultaneous kickoffs at 4 p.m. Sunday.

The knockout game rules, in which a 30-minute extension and a penalty shootout if necessary will be played if the match ends in a tie after regulation, will be implemented in Sunday night's semifinals and also in the championship game on Saturday night.

"Obviously, if we want to get to the final, we have to win," Nierras continued.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno