Teknika, San Beda in PFF Smart semifinals

CAGAYAN DE ORO – Teknika held Rizal-Smart San Beda to a gritty 2-all standoff last Saturday to barge into the PFF-Smart Club Championships semifinals at the close of group eliminations here and in Iloilo.

The Teknika booters were able to seize the initiative twice over their popular foes bannered by Phil and James Younghusband through goals by Misagh Bahadoran and Altichie Aaron in the 17th and 50th minutes, respectively. Both were from free kicks by El Habbib Izzeldin.

But the charges of ex-national coach Aris Caslib kept their poise and grimly fought back to tie the score each time. The first time on Phil’s penalty kick in the 37th minute and the last on former national standout Jeremias Jao‘s 20-foot roller from the left wing in the 83rd.

Despite the draw, San Beda still topped Group A with seven points, counting its two wins earlier, while Teknika wound up second in the group with five points on a win and two draws.

Laos FC-Leyte clobbered winless Bao Breakers-Iligan, 9-0, to finish third in the group with four points with the win plus its earlier 2-all deadlock with Teknika.

Over in Iloilo, Stallions FC-Barotac Nuevo shut out Columbia FC-Davao, 3-0, to book its spot in the semis at the close of the Group B elims where Pachanga-NCR emerged as the topnotcher by  whipping hapless Baguio United, 9-1.

Actually, Pachanga, Stallions and Columbia wound up with similar records of two wins and one loss, or six points each, but the first two teams earned the 1-2 seats in the crossover semifinals because of a better goal difference.

The NCR footballers had plus 9, the hosts plus 8 while Davao, which seemed poised to nail the last slot after back-to-back victories over Baguio (3-0) and Pachanga (1-0), was left out in the cold with plus 1.

In the semifinals, San Beda will face the Stallions and Pachanga takes on Teknika in the knockout on Tuesday  at the University of Makati pitch, with the schedule of matches to be announced on Monday.

A  weekend crowd of 8,000--perhaps the biggest ever to witness a football game at the Don Mariano Pelaez Sport Complex--that included Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno,  was  treated to a fast-paced and action-packed battle between Teknika and San Beda.

Fil-Iranian and national player Bahadoran, who apparently has a large following in Cagayan de Oro, drew first blood in the 17th, slipping past the San Beda defense to smash in the goal from pointblank after goalie Ref Cuaresma fumbled Elhabbib’s powerful free kick just outside the penalty area.

The Teknika booters then celebrated by forming a single file behind Bahadoran on the pitch and made arm actions like a choo-choo train--in reference to team owner and national team manager Dan Palami’s company, APT Global, which maintains LRT 1 and 2.

But San Beda was quick to counter attack and finally found the equalizer 20 minutes later when Teknika’s Valentine Kama was penalized with a handball violation inside the goal box.
Phil calmly slotted in the shot on the right side of the goal then  he and his co-players also did their
“Walk-Like-An-Egyptian” jig in celebration as the first half ended in a 1-all tie.
Mirroring Bahadoran’s earlier marker, Acharon also pounced on Izzeldin’s long free kick from the left wing  during a goalmouth scramble five minutes into the second half to boost Teknika ahead.

But  turning point came in the 57th minute when tempers flared just inside Teknika’s midfield between Robert Canedo and San Beda’s Peter Fadrigalan, resulting in a red card on the former, who tried to challenge Fadrigalan to a fistfight, and a yellow card on the latter.

With Teknika one man down  and the frantic tempo taking its toll on both sides, Caslib decided to exploit the disadvantage by sending  fresh legs in with substitutes Dwight Sendino and Jao, who saw action for the nationals in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games.

Jao made the most of his brief spell in the second half,  finding himself open on the left flank and booted in the tying marker in the 83rd off a cross by Phil, who was closely marked.

“We fought a physically superior team so I am happy with the draw,” Caslib said after the match. “My boys were unfazed by the foreigners and kept their poise.”

“The loss of Cañedo was a big blow to us because we were left with only 10 men,” said Teknika coach Franklin Muescan. “We knew we could win this match against San Beda.”

Ex-national Ruben Doctora (27th), South Korean Lee Joo Young (62nd, penalty kick) and Jimmy Vergara (90th) were the Stallions’ scorers.

Mario Clarino (21st, 73rd and 87th) and Alex Obiang (23rd, 30th, 67th) had three goals apiece in Pachanga’s onesided triumph over the winless Baguio booters. Press Release


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