Another page in the Global-Ceres saga is about to unfold on July 5 with Global playing at home in the Cebu City Sports Center. The two top teams in the last couple years of Philippine club football will again aim for supremacy in their second of four outings in the Philippines Football League this year. Even if the two clubs sit in the bottom of the top four, they are still the favorites to make it to the top before the semifinals.
Both teams squared off in Panaad last month with Ceres eking out a 1-0 victory late in the match. Stephan Schrock came on as a substitute and delivered a quality cross to Jeff Christaens who bundled home the winner just minutes before time. The win was Ceres-Negros’ first victory in the PFL after getting a draw in their opener against Kaya FC-Makati.
Home team Global is coming off a dry spell, collecting four points from three league matches after losing to JPV Marikina and earning a draw against Kaya in their last match. The visitors meanwhile have been impregnable at home, scoring three wins in their last three PFL games. The Cebu club wants to break the funk once they debut at the Queen City of the South. “Ceres is a strong team but for us we have strategies to break the lines and score,” said Global Coach Marjo Allado. “The purpose is to win the game in front of the home crowd,” he added.
Global’s Sekou Sylla and Paul Mulders were both absentees in their first meeting due to suspension and are expected to feature in the match barring any injuries. Sylla has been instrumental in their last match after he scored the equalizer in their last match while Mulders was their standout player in the group stages of the AFC Cup.
Ceres meanwhile welcomed Fernando Rodriguez to the PFL after being the long-term injury replacement to Antonio Bello. The Spanish striker who is one of the top scorers for Ceres’ campaign in the AFC Cup scored a hat trick in his debut against Stallion Laguna.
With the teams expecting to field their top squads, the attention shifted to the quality of the Abellana pitch. Ceres Coach Risto Vidakovic was livid after inspecting venue for the midweek fixture. “You cannot play football here,” said the Serbian-born mentor. Vidakovic was very vocal before the first game against Kaya FC as the UMak pitch was far from ideal on the first day. “The Kaya pitch (on the first game) was bad, but it was flat, this is much worse. The ground is not even. It’s very dangerous for the players,” he added.
Both teams got their chance to test the pitch in official training and everyone was unhappy on the state of the field. Global is set to play on the said pitch for four consecutive home matches starting July 5 to 15. The high-level encounter is set to kickoff at 7PM with a good crowd expected in the stadium. There will be no TV coverage for midweek matches but a livestream will be available at the PFF Mycujoo channel.
Photo from Stephen Tan