A week after suffering a difficult defeat, Kaya Makati have the opportunity to bounce back in style on Saturday, when they take on the recent winners of the AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Finals, Ceres Negros. With their victory in midweek over Singaporean side, Home United, Ceres made clear that they’re among the finest clubs in the region. Understandably, their return to Philippines Football League action is highly anticipated. The match will kickoff at 4pm at the University of Makati Stadium.
“We’re excited to play against the ASEAN Zonal Champions. We’re really looking forward to that,” said Kaya head coach Noel Marcaida.
“We have a healthy rivalry with Ceres. So for us, we’re always looking forward to playing against them, whether at home, or away. But after their last victory [in the AFC Cup], it gives us even more motivation to show what we can do,” added Makati midfielder Miguel Tanton.
Saturday’s encounter will be the third between Makati and Negros, with Ceres ahead in the series. The first meeting, the first ever PFL match, ended in a 1-1 draw at UMak. Negros then triumphed 3-1 on their home turf back in June, in what was a breathtaking display of exciting football.
“I think its going to be a tough game. Kaya has always proven to be a tough opponent,” said Negros captain Martin Steuble. “They are very organized. For me, they’re one of the toughest opponents in the league. We’ve had big games against them in the past. And I don’t think it will be any different this time around.”
The timing of the match, however, is certainly a challenge for the Bacolod side.
“It’s not easy to prepare a team, especially in the short time we have. The team is still celebrating the big win over Home United,” admitted Ceres head coach Risto Vidakovic.
Makati enter the contest fresh from having a seven-game unbeaten streak snapped by arch rivals Meralco Manila. But they’ll be buoyed by the fact that they return to the comforts of the University of Makati Stadium, where they’ve won five, drawn two, and lost only once.
“After the game against Meralco, we were a bit disappointed with the result. We think, on our end, we didn’t deserve that loss. But we have to move on and think positive,” said Marcaida. “It’s always been our mindset that when we play at home we have to protect our home turf. For tomorrow’s game, we make sure that we give a quality game to Ultras Kaya, and to all the Kaya fans that come to watch.”
“We always rise to the occassion when we go up against the tougher opponents. The fact that it’s at home, it’s just more incentive for us to show up big tomorrow,” added Tanton. “Showing up like we normally do against them — quick and tuned in — it’s the most important thing. I think last game, outside of the penalty, three of the four goals came in open play. So while I think set pieces are important, endurance and not switching off during the match is going to be key for us.”
Anyone who purchases a Grandstand ticket (P350) tomorrow will be given free access to Wednesday’s home match against JPV Marikina (4pm, Aug 16).