On a run of back-to-back wins in the Philippines Football League, Kaya Makati visits Rizal Memorial Stadium to take on rivals Meralco Manila on Saturday, looking to make it a perfect run of three victories within a packed week of matches. The winner of the upcoming derby, will not only get bragging rights, but also the added benefit of taking top spot in the standings.
“It’s a chance for us to regain the number one spot again tomorrow,” said Makati head coach Noel Marcaida, whose side sits just one point behind PFL leaders Meralco. “We’ve really had a tough schedule, but we’re happy. Despite a difficult schedule we were able to play a team (Davao Aguilas) in our last game that plays similar to how Meralco is playing. That gave us the chance to adjust from the previous game, to this one [seamlessly].”
Just two days since landing from a tiring but successful trip in Davao, Makati is racing to recover ahead of what should be another explosive encounter between the rivals.
“It’s always going to be difficult, especially with the traveling. But the team is looking pretty fit, and we’re just going to prepare for this game like any other game really. We’re just going to go out there and work hard and see what happens,” said Kaya’s Kenshiro Daniels. “It’s a derby so we’re always up for it. We always want to win this game.”
While Kaya are at the end of an extremely busy week, Meralco have had plenty of time to recover.
“I think it’s going to be a good game tomorrow,” said Manila head coach Aris Caslib. “Our advantage is that we’re fresh. But then, missing matches is also difficult for the team. We just have to capitalize on our rest right now, and stop their transition.”
“There was a time when Kaya was struggling. But when they changed their organization, they progressed. It helped them a lot in terms of their wing play, because they have two players on the side right now. Then, they have the good target in the middle. So, we just have to stop the side players,” he added. “The percentage of balls on the right is so high. We need to address that. We need to do well in our defending. Both in set pieces, and when the ball is transferred from one side to the other. If we’re able to address that, and really make do with our finishing, we may have a different result.”
The last meeting between the two sides yielded a 2-1 victory for Kaya, with a dramatic late goal from Eric Giganto deciding what was a fiery affair at the University of Makati. In order to even the series at 2-2, Marcaida believes nullifying Meralco’s defensive strength will be key.
“We will try to challenge that back three that they have. Because they have that solid unit. For you to get three points against Meralco, you have to make lots of runs to confuse their defensive line,” said Noel. “I think we just need to make sure we capitalize on transition, and to take care of the ball when we reach their attacking third.”
The match kicks off at 7pm, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, and can also be streamed live via MyCujoo: https://mycujoo.tv/philippine-football-federation?id=10460