by Alder Almo
MANILA, Philippines – Ceres-Negros banked on Jinggoy Valmayor to pull off a hard-earned 1-0 victory as they successfully defended their PFF-Suzuki Cup U-23 title against Medvil Davao on Thursday at the Gov. Mariano Perdices Coliseum in Dumaguete.
Valmayor converted a penalty kick in the 81st minute as Ceres-Negros won their second major title this year following their Smart PFF National Club championship conquest at the expense of United Football League first division campaigner PSG FC.
Unlike in their first meeting in the eliminations which ended in a 5-0 rout in favor of the champions, Davao parked the bus and focused on stopping Negros from scoring in their hopes of sending the match into penalty shootout. But the Bacolod-based club found the opening they needed when Jimuel Arriola, who scored in their 2-0 semifinal win over arch-rival Iloilo in the semis, was decked inside the box in the 81st minute.
Valmayor, the former UP Fighting Maroon skipper, calmly sank the penalty kick.
The 1-0 victory also preserved Ceres-Negros’ clean sheet throughout the tournament. In a show of dominance, the Bacolod squad coached by Ali Rojas Go rolled over Masbate (3-0), Davao (5-0) and Dipolog (6-0) in the group stage before blanking their arch-rival Iloilo, 2-0, in the semifinals.
Ceres-Negros pocketed Php 50,000 for their second straight title while Joshua Beloya, who scored one of the two goals against Iloilo in the semifinals, won three individual awards.
Beloya, who starred for the junior Azkals in the Southeast Asian Games in 2011, won the Best Midfielder, Most Valuable Player and shared the Golden Boot award with North Cotabato’s Rudane Tamon and Juven Benitez. The trio all scored four goals throughout the tournament.
Beloya’s teammate Anthony Tongson won the Best Defender award while Davao’s Dominador Tato was adjudged as the Best Goal Keeper.
Davao took home the Fair Play award.
Earlier in the day, North Cotabato took the third place honors leaning on Tamon’s brace to score a 3-0 win over Iloilo.