Inaugural champion NOFA-Ceres strengthened their bid for another crown with a dominating 6-0 victory against Zamboanga FA in the PFF – Suzuki Men’s National U23 Championship at the Gov. Mariano Perdices Memorial Stadium, Saturday in Dumaguete City.
Poised to clinch their first win in the eliminations and secure a seat in the semifinals, the Negrenses relentlessly attacked the Zamboanga side with Prince Antony opening the scoring for NOFA-Ceres in the 19th minute and getting in another one in the 35th minute.
University of St. La Salle’s J Baguioro completed the 3-0 production of the team in the first half with a marker in the 32nd minute.
Without letup, NOFA – Ceres remained in control of the match in the second half as Ryan Lirio, who was fielded by coach Ali Go in the 59th minute to replace Abelardo Solinas, made it 4-0 in the 75th , making it a tall order for the Zamboangeños to catch up.
Joshua Beloya, one of the original members of the Ceres team that won the U23 Suzuki Cup in 2011, added his name in the list of scorers by sending the ball into the net in the 80th minute.
Gerardo Valmayor sealed the victory for the team a minute before the final whistle.
“Our team had only a few weeks to prepare for the tournament and being the inaugural champion, there is the pressure on the team to defend our title,” coach Go told the media during the press conference.
The squad will be facing Davao FA today at 4 p.m., with both teams eyeing their second win in Bracket B. Davao earlier beat Masbate FA, 1-0, courtesy of a late goal from Gio Diamante in the 71st minute.
Meanwhile, North Cotabato FA avenged its opening day loss to Cebu by beating powerhouse Iloilo FA, 2-0, in yesterday’s first match.
Stephen John Lavega managed to beat Iloilo’s defenders during the injury time in the first half, while Rudane Tamon made it 2-0 in the 56th minute.
With the win, Cotabato takes the second spot in the team standings in Bracket A behind Cebu FA, as the latter posted its second win yesterday against Iligan-Lanao, 1-0.
The top two teams in each bracket will advance to the crossover semifinals on May 28 with the championship match set on May 30.*NAB
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