Ceres books Smart Club Championship finals at the expense of Kaya
by rick olivares
“Mallari!” screamed Kaya head coach Maur Rozen. “Eddie!”
The Uruguayan coach spotted Ceres winger Jayson Panhay racing up unmarked on the left flank as Kaya’s defense was looking for an attack to come up the middle or the right.
Ceres defender Hyung Min Sim surveyed his options then quickly launched a forward pass to Panhay who only had center back Masa Omura to beat. Panhay ditched him and that forced Kaya keeper Saba Garmaroudi to rush out.
From a 45° angle, Panhay launched a delicate chip to the far post for the opening goal in the 24th minute. What was perhaps even more mortifying was the fact that the other Kaya defenders – Dario Dakic and Junior Muñoz failed to cover the line when Garmaroudi rushed out.
That wasn’t the first that Rozen warned of the danger lurking from the wings. On two separate occasions before Panhay’s run, he called out to Mallari and to forward Eric Dagroh but they didn’t hear his admonitions.
Seven minutes after Panhay’s goal, Byeong Jun Yoon collected a punch out to hammer a shot from 18 yards out to double Ceres’ lead.
That almost put the fight out of Kaya that was smarting from the near loss of its entire back four of the last three UFL tournaments. Former team captain and long time fixture at center back Ali Borromeo has still not fully recovered from his knee injury. Anton Del Rosario just got back from his own injury and was not listed for the tournament. Centerback Jason Sabio is back in Alabama working to get his degree from law school. Adrian Semblat is now with Nomads while Nico Bolzico isn’t even listed.
Kaya came out from the halftime break with new resolve as they had Ceres on their heels. The club’s new game changer since the UFL Cup has been speedy midfielder OJ Porteria whose dazzling balls skills allow him to break down defenders. He did it to Loyola and he found his way down the right goal line to fire a cross that Chris Greatwich blasted home in the 49th minute.
Kaya had four excellent chances to equalize but Kross Ubiam, Dario Dakic, and Greatwich missed their shots.
Ceres mostly on the defensive the entire second half got their second wind when Omura tripped up a player inside the box. Gun Hee Choi sent Garmaroudi the wrong way to give them an insurmountable 3-1 lead with less than 10 minutes to play. The penalty shot sent Ceres to the finals of the PFF Smart National Club Championship at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in a most impressive manner.
Ceres has been taking names on its way to local club football immortality. In the Round of 16, they dispatched UFL Cup champion with a stunning 1-0 win. They followed that up with an equally impressive ambush of Global with a similar score line before facing Kaya in the finals.
The Bacolod-based club’s run caused a huge dent on the armor of invincibility of the Metro Manila sides and Ceres accomplished it while playing Imperial Manila’s game.
Ceres is normally entirely composed of homegrown talent. When they decided to participate in the tournament, they picked up key Korean and English players to beef up their squad. Along with a couple of UFL cast offs Jason Cordova, Jung Mook Kim, and Yoon (Stallion) as well as Lemuel Unabia (Green Archers United). The latter three are all starters for Ceres and have had an impact with the Negros side.
Kaya’s aggressive play in the opening minutes didn’t give Ceres the run of the field as they did against Global in the quarterfinals. But the final pass to the forwards was wanting and eventually hurt Kaya. The sudden substitution of Dagroh for Kenshiro Daniels hurt their aggressiveness up front. Although Daniels acquitted himself well in the second half, his lack of experience couldn’t get him past Cordova who marked him well.
One of Kaya’s strengths in recent years was the speed and aggressiveness of Prince Mark Boley. But he is no longer in a Kaya uniform as the club has undergone a facelift.
However, there is promise for Rozen’s team. In the meantime, Ceres will get to fulfill theirs as they are in the finals of the PFF Smart National Club Championship against a depleted Pasargad side. In the main game of the semifinals double header, Pasargad came back from two goals down to forge a penalty shootout with Green Archers United to come away 2-1 winners.
With Danny Claxton and Peter Long after their stunning 3-1 win over Kaya to advance to the finals of the 2013 PFF Smart National Club Championships.