LEYLAM FC had the best possible start to its title-retention bid in the AboitizLand Football Cup Division 1 when it beat the University of San Carlos (USC), 5-1, in the first round, but got a bit unlucky when USC’s pullout a week later forced organizers to grant automatic 5-1 wins to the rest of the teams.
USC is no pushover and being one of the most fit teams in the league, I’m confident it could have won some of those “5-1” losses had it not pulled out. And when Leylam fought old rival Erco Bro to a scoreless draw, the race for the title, had it been left between the two, would have been a matter of goal difference.
But then again, the football gods threw in a wrench to make sure the Men’s Division 1 will be competitive until the final round.
First, Don Sacredale showed up with seven players only against Leylam, with some nursing injuries or suspended on yellow cards, giving the defending champion an open lane in padding their goal difference.
I think the picture we ran on March 9, says it all. There was Leo Maquiling with the ball, with one Sacredale defender guarding him. To Maquiling’s left, was Chris Ozawa, preparing to make a run and to his right, two other teammates ready to receive the ball.
The result? A 12-0 rout that had Don Sacredale saying “no mas” after 45 minutes.
The was the first one. The second was when Makoto FC, long a favorite but haven’t had any luck in reaching the finals in previous editions when the Men’s Open was a cup, stunned Erco Bro, 2-1, to take the lead and end Erco Bro’s title hopes in the process.
Makoto now leads the standings at 12 points, while Leylam is second at 10 points. I expect Makoto to be at 15 points and Leylam at 13 points after their games on March 15 against the University of Cebu and the University of San Jose-Recoletos, respectively.
An upset by the two school-based teams would put Erco Bro back in the hunt, but since the top two teams know what’s at stake, I don’t think they’ll going to take it easy.
If Makoto and Leylam both win, that would make their final match on the final day a race for the title. That’s how fans want it. That would be more than interesting because Makoto only needs a draw to win its first AboitizLand Men’s crown, while Leylam needs to beat the Japanese-laden club.
Let’s see what happens.