The highly anticipated derby between Kaya Makati and Meralco Manila takes place in two days, and aside from the general intensity expected between rivals, Saturday’s contest comes at a vital stage of the Philippines Football League, particularly for the home team. Makati currently sits second in the standings, but their place in December’s Finals Series is still far from a certainty.
Manila, on the other hand, are first in the table, while having played two games less. They also hold two wins over Kaya this season: a 2-0 victory at the University of Makati, and a 2-1 win at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Confidence certainly won’t be lacking for the visitors.
With the impetus on the home side to get points, against a team unbeaten in seven matches, it would be understandable that there’d be an additional strain on Kaya Makati. Team manager Chris Greatwich, however, somehow remains undaunted.
“I don’t think there’s any added pressure. I think it’s always a game that’s highly charged and very emotional. Since I’ve been here (both as player and as coach/manager), there’s only been one 0-0 draw between us, so they’re always pretty open and fiery affairs,” he said. “We’re just looking forward to the game. I think we’re in good form coming into this one. The last two games we’ve played very well. We haven’t conceded a goal, and spirits are high within the camp. We fully expect to get three points come Saturday afternoon.”
Greatwich, confident as he is, isn’t ignorant of the threat of the league leaders.
“They’ve been the most consistent team throughout this campaign,” he stated. “They’re defensively very resolute, they’re very well organized. Coach Aris has obviously drilled them exceptionally well and they’re very difficult to break down.”
“They’ve obviously lost Phil and James Younghusband, who for many years were their main sources of goals. Yet since their departure, they’ve still been able to grind out some very noticeable victories. That says a lot about their defensive resoluteness, but also their ability to maximize their opportunites to win games.”
Manila’s last defeat came at the very start of last month. It was only their second loss in the season. Three days after that result, they bounced back with a narrow victory over Makati at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, a game which Greatwich felt didn’t finish with an accurate score line.
“In the first one (at UMak), we didn’t really give a good account of ourselves. The sending off of course didn’t help proceedings,” he said of Kaya’s uninspired outing back in June. “But in the second game, we were by far the better team. Even though we started off quite sluggish in the first half, the second half was complete domination from us. If we’re being honest, we should’ve taken all three points.
“I think if we replicate our second half performance in Saturday’s game, and apply ourselves the way we have in the last couple of games, I’m confident of us getting a good result.”
Saturday’s match between Kaya Makati and Meralco Manila kicks off at 4pm at the University of Makati. Tickets are available via SM Tickets: https://www.smtickets.com/events/view/5720
Field Side: P20
*Also available on Game Day at the venue