A PROVINCIAL team with a diverse fusion of Bacoleños, Koreans, and British booters is now the best football club in the Philippines.
Ceres put a storybook ending to its unbelievable campaign in the Philippine Football Federation-Smart National Club Championship with a 1-0 victory over PSG in the finale on Saturday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Byeong Jun Yoon shone brightest as he fired the title-clinching goal early in the second half for the Negros Occidental-based squad, which had received little attention when it entered the national competition until it caught two big scalps in United Football League champions Stallion and Global.
“They were saying before it was just a fairytale but now it’s a true story. It’s a champion team,” said Ceres manager Ali Go, whose team toppled another UFL heavyweight in Kaya in the semifinals.
“It’s very sweet. It’s all hard work, but preparation was really short. I was amazed how the team jelled in a span of a week,” he added.
Ceres, who has now become the second champion of the tournament after Global won the first edition of the event two years ago, also took advantage of a shortanded PSG lineup, which was without flashy goalkeeper Reza Ataei, among others.
After having good looks but sub-par finishing in first half, Ceres was finally rewarded 11 minutes after intermission when Yoon capitalized on a loose ball after PSG's stand-in ‘keeper Ricardo Padilla, a natural defender, failed to catch a cross from a Ceres booter.
Yoon, who scored his third goal since the Round of 16, was adjudged the MVP of the tournament. The 20-year-old Korean striker then deflected credit to teammates.
“I’m just happy, but I didn’t like my play today. But I was saved by my team,” said Yoon, whose teammates - goalkeeper Jae Hun Hyeon (Golden Gloves), Kyeon Hyeong Park (Best defender), and Joshua Beloya (Best midfielder) - also won individual awards.
Green Archers United’s Chieffy Caligdong rounded out the individual award winners after winning the Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals in the tournament with four.
The Archers also won the Fair Play Award for having the least amount of cards.
Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos