After the Azkals’ adventure in Qatar, the Pinoy football stars resume local rivalries as the PFL returns to action this week. Let us take a look at the storylines developing as the chase for the Playoffs intensifies.
-Can Meralco Manila keep the top spot?
Ever since week 1, Meralco Manila has hung around the top spot of the PFL table. They have been able to fend off the threats of Kaya and Global to snatch their omnipresent lead at the top. However, A Bus Blitzkrieg is on the horizon. They need to win as much as they can and hope Ceres Negros, who holds a hypothetical 6 point lead against them, slips a few times along the way to keep their perch.
Stallion Laguna’s resurgence in the second half of the season saw hopes of a playoff push. However, their recent bad form dragged these ambitions back to the slimmest of margins. The horsepower needs to rev up again, and hope that the five teams in front of them slip or lose steam. For Jhan Melliza and company, this run must start now, in a difficult game against the Sparks at RMS.
-Can the Ceres Blitzkrieg continue to steamroll?
Ceres Negros is difficult to stop when on form, like a bus speeding up a downhill. However, like someone waiting for a driver’s license, their backlog of games will prove their mettle this playoff chase season, both physically and mentally. A majority of their remaining games are against the other top 6 clubs. First up is Kaya FC Makati in Panaad. Then JPV Marikina comes to town on Wednesday. Big tests ahead for Risto Vidakovic’s boys.
The Lions of Makati has had a solid, albeit low key season. However, this is the time of year where their mentality will be tested. Aside from their win in the Capital Derby last time, Kaya doesn’t have a good record against the other top teams this season, with their draws against Ceres and Global the only other high points. They have a chance to prove that they are truly championship material if they beat Ceres Negros this weekend.
-Can Davao Actually Win?
They now have the stars, the skills, and the motivation. Despite everything, the Davao Aguilas are yet to win this season. They maybe realistically out of the playoff contention,but the need to win to appease their bruised egos. They have two chances to do that against the lowly Ilocos United, this weekend in Tagum and in Vigan on Wednesday. Their pride and the perceptions of their big ambition is at stake.
It must really suck for Ilocos United to already have a win, and find the winless Aguilas are still on top of them in the table. They maybe rooted at the bottom for now, but this is the perfect time to build cohesion and suitable tactics for the team in seasons to come. The Northern Knights needs to show they can hang in the big boys club, and the chance to humiliate Davao twice over is a perfect launching pad.
-Can Global Cebu exorcise the demons of Marikinas Past?
Of the perceived top clubs of the Philippines, Global Cebu is in an unenviable spot. A paper thin squad now ravaged by injuries to key men like Amani Aguinaldo and Misagh Bahadoran, their place in the playoffs is at risk. It doesn’t help that their bogey team this season is coming to town. Sugbu’s Warriors need to muster the strength to defend their reputation and still have a chance to get another championship for their trophy cabinet.
JPV Marikina is in the same predicament with Stallion Laguna in terms of the playoff picture. They need a top team to slip up to take their spot. They have the perfect chance against Global, who they have already beaten twice this season. However, this game is tricky for the Voltes. They need to beat Global in front of a packed Abellana Stadium in Cebu City. The pressure is on.