By Jerome S. Galunan Jr.
Undeniably, Negros Occidental’s Ceres Football Club has faced and overcome the toughest challenges a team could have since it entered the Round of 16 of the ongoing PFF-Smart Club Championships.
But it seemed that the more this team is tested, the sharper they become when the competition stage progresses.
With the provincial squad beating UFL’s top two teams – erstwhile defending PFF-Smart Club Championships titlist Global FC and UFL Cup defending champion Stallion Giligans FC — football enthusiasts in the country are getting more interested in seeing Ceres FC plays Kaya FC in the semifinals on Saturday, and hopefully find them occupies the other side at the finals.
However, another tough battle awaits Ceres FC when it faces Kaya FC which is being bannered by another set of players from the Azkals’ team and reinforced by a number of foreigners.
The Maor Rozen-mentored Kaya, like Global FC, is also star-studded and a strong team anchored by skipper and Azkals veteran central defender Aly Borromeo, co-skipper and defender Anton del Rosario and his brother Armand; defender Jason Sabio, midfielders OJ Porteria, Lexton Moy and Chris Greatwich; and forwards Yannick Tuason and Nate Burkey.
Also boosting the club are forward Antonio Ugarte, midfielder Eddie Mallari, defenders Junior Muñoz, Kurt Alvarez, and Darren Hartmann, and alternate keeper Russel Pierson.
Completing Kaya’s roster are keepers Saba Garmaroudi (Iran) and Troy Osborne (Australia); defenders Dario Ðakiæ (Sweden) and Nicolas Bolzico (Argentina); midfielders Toshiya Hosoe (Japan), Masanari Omura (Japan), Sean Iliff (USA), Jonahan Romero (Guam) and Ugochukwu Ubiam (Nigeria); and forwards Eric Dagroh (Ivory Coast) and Alu Kigbu (Nigeria).
However, if reports are true that Borromeo and Del Rosario are both hurt while Sabio is back in the USA to continue his law studies, then somehow there are good chances for Ceres FC forwards to break through Kaya’s wall.
Against Meralco-Loyola, Kaya FC has Swedish Dakic and Japanese Omura at centerback while Munoz and Mallari at wingback.
At the offensive end, Ceres FC defense should start work from the midfield and deny Kaya from controlling the ball distribution.
On the other hand, Ceres FC attacking midfielder Joshua Beloya closed the speculations that he will not be available to play for Ceres FC in the semis because of his prior commitment to the Philippine Dolphins, the National Beach Football Team.
“I will stay with Ceres,” Beloya told Watchmen Daily Journal yesterday.
The Philippine Dolphins is currently bannered by Philippine Army and Azklas Roel Gener and Nestor Margarse, Philippine Air Force keeper Tats Mercado, Nomads’ midfielder Jason Arroyo, and Fil-foreigners Oliver Potschke and Sean Hungerford./WDJ