Though he came out a close 1-0 winner over the Dynamic Herb Cebu Football Club, Stallions Laguna coach Ernie Nierras was impressed with the team and sees the debuting club as a contender in the next season of the Philippine Football League in 2022.
Stallions sealed the top spot in Group A with a 1-0 win over Cebu in the Paulino Alcantara Cup and will face the second-ranked team in Group B. Cebu will face the dangerous Kaya FC in the semis.
“The mix of veterans and new players worked very well. I am happy that six former players are now with Cebu and did not take them for granted,” said Nierras, whose Stallions team is one of the contenders for the title.
Among the former Stallions players who are now with Cebu are defensive stalwarts Jaoco Canas and Jayson Cordova, who had their hands full dealing with a constant attack in their debut.
Cebu coach Oliver Colina was also satisfied with their debut as the team got to kick off its first-time jitters.
“In the first half, they were mostly excited, some players were nervous but overall we played well. We were just unlucky when we reach the attacking third, there was not much movement, especially from our strikers,” said Colina.
Cebu managed to get a couple of open shots outside the box but they were way off target. Their best chance came late in the first after captain Evren Tasci found himself open inside the box but his square pass missed the mark.
With the semifinal scheduled for next week yet, Colina said he will have ample time for adjustments against Kaya, which blanked Mendiola 6-0.
Meanwhile, Nierras said Cebu is lucky to have a football patron in Ugur Tasci, the owner of the first homegrown pro club in Cebu.
“Cebu has a dynamic and football-crazy owner in Ugur. I already told the PFF and the PFL that Cebu is the perfect example of a pro team, they own their own pitch and they are developing local talent,” said Nierras. “It was a very good match and I expect Cebu to be a contender in 2022.”
Aside from Evren and Baris Tasci, Cebuano Kintaro Miyagi started in the game, while Lorenzo Genco came in in the second half.