The heated rivalry between Kaya and Meralco. The battle between Makati and Manila. A face off between the current top two in the standings. Whichever way its billed, tomorrow’s Metro Manila Derby, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, is expected to be an intense encounter in the Philippines Football League. One glaring change in the rivalry will be the missing presence of the Younghusband brothers, who recently completed their high profile move to Davao.
“For me, regardless whether the Younghusband brothers are there or not, when you talk about Kaya Makati and Meralco Manila, it’s about pride of the clubs, and pride of the cities,” said Kaya Makati head coach Noel Marcaida. “In our previous meeting, we lost 2-0. Going into tomorrow’s game we’re really looking forward to bouncing back, and getting three points at their home ground.”
“We want to get the points. We’re going to get the points,” said Makati forward, and PFL leading scorer, Jordan Mintah. “I can see the spirit in the club is very high. The guys want to win this game. We are coming all out.”
The Ghanaian striker was sent off in the first meeting at the University of Makati, shown a straight red for an apparent blow to Manila defender Milan Nikolic. The incident handed Meralco a numerical advantage and an insurance goal from the penalty spot. Although he was disappointed with how that first meeting played out, Mintah believes there was a purpose for that day’s despair.
“When I got the red card in the game against Meralco, I was so frustrated about it. But when I sat down to think about it, God knows the reason why it happened in the game. So you can see, once I came back from my suspension, you can see the blessing that was given to me.” said Jordan. “The whole team is playing so well. If the whole team is not playing so well, I cannot be playing so well. So it’s the whole team that deserves credit.”
Last Wednesday, in their first match without the Younghusbands, Meralco succumbed 2-1 to Global Cebu. It was another addition to a difficult run of games, where Manila have managed only a single win in four matches. That stretch also included an extraordinary 7-0 defeat to Ceres Negros at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“It’s our second game after the Phil and James Younghusband era,” said Meralco head coach Aris Caslib. “Although we lost the match against Global [in our last outing], I think we’re on our way up, and I think it’s a good second match against Kaya on Saturday.”
“It’s always a tough game against Kaya. We are eager to show our value after the brothers left. We are eager to perform well and get the victory,” said Manila defender Joaco Cañas.
While the absence of the Younghusbands would seem like a significant lift to Kaya Makati, Jordan Mintah isn’t thinking of it as such.
“We don’t underrate any player on the field. We have to give respect to any player that enters the field. Without the Younghusbands they are doing well. When they played against Global they did very well. It’s not like they didn’t have chances to win the game. They have good talented young players. Without them (Younghusbands), they can still do something in the league.”
Suspended for the first meeting, Makati midfielder Miguel Tanton will be available to play in the upcoming derby, a factor that Meralco has a close eye on.
“I think the presence of Miguel for Kaya creates a different picture on how Kaya will play. It gives them good space to maneuver in the middle. We need to stop that,” said Caslib, who also expressed his confidence in shackling one of the league’s most potent attacks. “The pair of strikers (Robert Mendy and Mintah) of Kaya is really strong. But when we played them in the first match, we were able to manage.”
Kaya Makati enters the match with confidence flying high, on a run of seven games unbeaten in the PFL. Kickoff at the Rizal Memorial Stadium is at 7pm. The match will also be aired live on Mycujoo.tv.