By JONAS TERRADO
Games Saturday (Rizal Memorial Stadium)
4 p.m. Kaya vs Green Archers
6:30 p.m. Ceres vs Pasargad
Manila, Philippines – Under-the-radar clubs Ceres and Pasargad arranged a title showdown after defeating their respective rivals on Saturday night in the PFF Smart Club Championship semifinals at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Bacolod-based Ceres continued its giant-killing ways by defeating United Football League powerhouse Kaya, 3-1, while Pasargad downed Green Archers United Globe in penalties, 2-1, after a 2-all standoff in regulation and extra time.
After being left off as title favorites when the tournament began two weeks ago, the two clubs will meet for the championship on Saturday at the same pitch.
Ceres had to beat fancied UFL clubs Stallion and Global before taking an early 2-0 lead over Kaya in the semis on goals from Jason Panhay and Yoon Byeong Jun in the 24th and 41st minutes, respectively.
On the other hand, the Iranianflavored Pasargad side defeated Philippine Army and General Trias International in the first two rounds then had to overcome an early 2-0 deficit against the Archers before halftime to eventually force a shootout.
Pasargad goalkeeper Reza Ataei, jeered all evening by the animated crowd for his excessive antics, saved an attempt by the Archers’ Tommy Escoltero in the fourth phase of shootout with his team up, 2-1.
Confusion later set in when Ataei and Jahambaksh Taher each received a red card and an automatic ejection for taking off their shirts following the save as Pasargad thought the match was over.
Luckily, Aryee Ayi failed to score a tying goal in the Archers’ fifthand-last attempt of the shootout when he hit the ball into the right goalpost.
It was the second straight semifinal heartbreak for the Green Archers after losing to Stallion, 3-1, in the UFL Cup last November.