Ceres Negros, FC Meralco Manila set for showdown in Bacolod
Curt Dizon scored for Manila against Ceres in August. Can he do it again? (Photo courtesy of FC Meralco Manila)
The Philippines Football League does not get any better than this: a top-of-the-table smackdown between Ceres and the Sparks this Sunday, November 5 in Bacolod's Panaad stadium. Kickoff is at 7:00 pm. Admission in the bleachers and grandstand is free.
Manila are still the number one team in the table with 54 points from 25 matches. But Ceres have now overtaken Kaya Makati for the second spot, with 48 points from 22 games. (Each team plays a total of 28 in the regular season.)
Ceres drubbed Davao 5-1 on Thursday in Bacolod thanks to a hat trick from Fernando Rodriguez. Manila also won their last assignment, edging JPV Marikina 1-0 in an attritional encounter last Tuesday.
There is more than bragging rights at stake on Sunday night. Manila have already clinched a top-two seed going into the Finals Series playoff phase. Ceres needs five more points to achieve that with five matches left, so there will be plenty to play for. Both teams are eager to enter the four-team playoffs as the top seed.
This fixture has produced some interesting results. In July the busmen stormed into Rizal Memorial and dealt the Sparks a savage 7-0 beatdown. But a month later Manila returned the favor, stunning the Negrenses with a 2-1 victory in Panaad thanks to scores from Simon Greatwich and Curt Dizon.
Manila and Negros will play one more time before the regular season is done. A game on Friday, November 24 is set for Rizal Memorial.
Manila will be without Korean centerback Lee Jeong Min, who is out on accumulated yellow cards after being cautioned on Tuesday. Ceres star man Stephan Schrock came off the pitch injured against Davao and it's not clear how fit he will be for Sunday.
A livestreaming will likely be made available. Kindly watch the FC Meralco Manila social media accounts for the link.
FC Meralco Manila, formerly known as the Loyola Meralco Sparks, represents the City of Manila in the Philippines Football League, the country's top-tier senior men's football competition.
The Sparks have previously been PFF National Club Champions as well as UFL Cup champs.
The team is captained by Simon Greatwich, who has made 18 appearances for the Azkals.
Follow FCMM on Twitter and Instagram @FCMeralcoManila, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fcmeralcomanilasparks/