We continue now with the top 4. Unlike the bottom half of the table, these clubs need only minor tweaking and retooling to stay competitive.
FC MERALCO MANILA (8/10)
HIGH POINT – The Regular Season
-Nobody expected this Meralco side to be so competitive specially after losing their two most recognizable players to upstart Davao Aguilas. But instead of sliding down the table, the sparks were able to keep the momentum and finish top of the table coming into the Finals Series.
LOW POINT – The Finals Series
-Coming into the Finals Series, expectations were high for Meralco. Facing a Global side unable to play in Cebu due to scheduling conflicts, the first leg was played in the Sparks home of RMS where the sparks have an impressive record, losing only twice the whole season albeit one of the losses coming from the Cebuan side. The Sparks started well getting the lead early only to be undone in the dying moments to lose by a goal. That ”away” goal advantage wasn’t enough as they failed to close it out in the 2nd leg again conceding a late goal and losing to the 4th seed 3-2 on aggregate. Once again it has been the same story, the Sparks failing to win when it mattered most.
-It was a collective team effort. The team didn’t have big names after the Younghusbands left. But everyone that was left raised their performances, all having something to prove. Tahj Minniecon’s goals, Curt Dizon’s Trickery, the emergence of Daniel Gadia and Connor Tacagni, and the solid defensive abilities of the backline was keys to their success.
WHO TO BUY: A goal scorer up front and a midfield playmaker.
-Meralco’s scoring woes were evident with the loss of PYH. The Sparks remaining forwards had less than 5 goals between them. Clearly a lethal marksman is needed to ease the burden from Tahj and Curt. A midfield maestro would also be a welcome addition to partner Gadia in the middle and help keep possession and fashion chances from deep allowing Simon Greatwich to move further up front in his more comfortable attacking midfield role.
CERES NEGROS FC (9/10)
HIGH POINT – Winning the AFC Cup ASEAN zone.
-It was a near perfect season for the Busmen being the inaugural PFL champions. But one could argue that winning the AFC Cup ASEAN zone was the sweeter victory. It was the first time in history that a Filipino club has reached the later stages of the AFC Cup and the Busmen won the ASEAN zone beating the likes of JDT, and Home United along the way to come home with the regional crown.
LOW POINT – Losing at home to Meralco Manila and failing to clinch top spot.
-In a near perfect season, there just wasn’t much low points for Ceres. But if I were to pick, it would be that 2-1 loss to Meralco Manila and their failure to secure that top seed coming into the Finals Series. Coming into the last game of the season, Ceres only needed to draw with Global to clinch top seed but chose to play their reserves, absorbing a loss in Cebu.
MVP: Bienvenido Marañon
-In a team full of superstars, the man from Cadiz, Spain stood out. The Spaniard has been in scintillating form this Season for the Busmen, leading the team in scoring both in the AFC Cup and the PFL with his 22 goals just edging compatriot Fernando Rodriguez for the unofficial golden boot in the Inaugural season.
WHO TO BUY: Depth.
-Ceres has no glaring needs to address but added depth to relieve the legs of the starters when the fixtures become congested would do wonders to keep the stars fresh and so that we can avoid a repeat of rescheduling that had persisted the past season.
KAYA FC MAKATI (6/10)
HIGH POINT – Making the Finals Series.
-In what has been a tight regular season in the PFL, KAYA Makati has been able to punch above their weight. Finishing third and higher in the standings against an arguably more talented Global side. Giving Ceres and Global a run for their money and almost finishing second in the standings and being competitive until the final day of the regular season.
LOW POINT – Inability to beat the top teams.
-KAYA FC Makati’s inability to beat the top 3 teams has been their doom this season. Having only 2 wins against the 3 clubs that they would possibly face in the Finals Series was a recipe for disaster. Having only won once each against Global and Meralco and failing to win against Ceres showed their ineptitude against the stronger sides. Facing Ceres in the Finals was the final nail in their proverbial coffin as they had no answer to the Busmen all season long.
MVP – Jordan Mintah
-The Ghanaian spitfire was in great form all season long. Leading Kaya in scoring with 18 goals in the competition carrying the team on his shoulders the whole year. His closest support within the team was Robert Mendy and Eric Giganto with 9 and 6 goals respectively.
WHO TO BUY – Defensive Depth.
-With club stalwarts Masa ômura and Aly Borromeo in the wrong side of 30 and Osei not getting any younger as well, Kaya needs to shore up their backline next season with youth to give their aging backline a rest and eventually get ready when they do hang up their boots.
GLOBAL CEBU FC (6/10)
HIGH POINT – Upsetting the top seed to reach the Championship game.
-Unable to secure a home game for the Finals Series, Global was forced to play both of their games against Meralco at RMS. With Meralco having the advantage, Global dug deep beating the Sparks at “Home” 2-1 in stoppage time and following it up with a 1-1 draw the next leg to advance 3-2 on aggregate to the championship game.
LOW POINT – Uncertainty at the club.
-The club has been clouded in uncertainty the whole season. From failing to secure their home venue consistently, late payments, to injuries, to the impending takeover, it has been a roller-coaster of a season for Global. It has to have affected the players mentality. Injuries has also plagued the club with Global sometimes playing with only 13 or 14 players. Paperwork issues has also been a problem, with Misagh Bahadoran forced to play Keeper when Quincy Kameraad’s paperworks weren’t settled on time.
MVP – Jerry Barbaso
-A constant fixture in Global’s lineup. The man from Dipolog hasn’t lost a step and still feature for the side despite the roller coaster of personnel during the season.
WHO TO BUY – Possibly everyone
-With uncertainty surrounding the club on what direction the new owners will take the club, it’s going to be anyone’s guess on who is staying and who is leaving. Do they bring in a new coaching staff? Will they keep their stars? Will there be new players? Until we know for certain what they plan to do, we can only speculate at the moment.