This is crunch time.
The PFL clubs now enter the home stretch of their campaigns, whether 4 games or 10 games remaining, the FinalSeries/Playoffs looms large on the horizon. Let us take a look at the 3 days worth of football this weekend, and what it means for every single team.
– Friday Night Lights
What a rare sight in Philippine professional football. A Friday night game between the two teams at opposite ends of the table. Nothing has changed for the fortunes of both Ilocos United and Meralco Manila. The Sparks need wins in order to halt the advance of Ceres Negros to the top of the table. They have 6 games remaining to do this, and a trip up north to Vigan may be the easiest start possible, with their last 3 games ending in a win for Manila’s Orange.
Barely 49 hours after succumbing to the Davao Aguilas, Ilocos United are at it again at home. With the barest of bare minimums in terms of rest and squad size, coach Ian Gillan needs to ensure maximum effort out of his players. It maybe a tough ask for them to beat Meralco, but all stops must be pulled in order to prove that they are not going down without a fight this season.
-Battle for 3rd….and 4th
In the realistic scheme of things, Kaya FC Makati and Global Cebu are 90% assured of going to the playoffs, with the matter of placement left to be decided. Kaya FC Makati is ahead of Global by 4 points, but Global has 2 games in hand. This match will be crucial in the playoff landscape, in determining who faces off with either Meralco or Ceres in the Semifinals.
Global Cebu are still missing their key players OJ Clariño and Amani Aguinaldo, yet the return of captain Misagh Bahadoran to training is a big morale boost to the club. On the other hand, Kaya have the second best Home record in the league with 24 points from 12 games. Despite these facts, both teams have recorded a Global win and 2 draws in their past league matchups. Saturday promises to be a turning point for one team as the playoffs come ever closer.
-Strength vs Ambition
Both JPV Marikina and Stallion Laguna are still hoping to make the playoffs this seasons, but the dropped points for both in their last games means this weekend will prove to be a tricky proposition for both clubs’ambitions. Stallion faces Ceres Negros in the first of their back to back home games against the Busmen. Without Jhan Melliza due to injury, Stallion may be up against the wall, facing a Ceres side determined to chase Meralco Manila to the summit of the table.
On the other hand, JPV’s home game against the newly rejuvenated Davao Aguilas will not be hosted in Marikina as hoped, but in the Rizal Memorial Stadium instead. JPV may need to be wary against the Aguilas, a resurgent side who has now tasted back to back wins. Their heroics of drawing Ceres in Panaad after a 2-0 deficit and just 10 men for most of the game may be needed again.
The playoffs are slipping for both Laguna and Marikina with each passing game. They need points, luck, a big-time slip up from a big club and maximum effort to earn a shot at the PFL championship.