Three points at stake and a battle for top spot. It doesn’t get any better than this. It’s Ceres against Kaya in an intense mid-week battle in the Philippines Football League.
Match 25 will see two of the country’s hottest and finest clubs will go head-to-head for the right to hold the number one spot but before that, let’s take a look at what’s in store for us on the 10th of July at the PFF National Training Centre in Carmona, Cavite.
Taming the relentless busmen
Currently holding a three-point lead at the top of the standings, Kaya FC-Iloilo will go try to get back to their winning ways after they were held to a scoreless draw by Green Archers United in their encounter last July 6.
The current Copa Paulino Alcantara titleholders have a mountain of tasks at hand for them to be able to get away with the win. In their 15 competitive matches, Kaya FC-Iloilo only won twice while the Busmen going away with staggering 10 wins.
They might be too hot to handle but recently, Ceres-Negros FC bid farewell to a lot of their pivotal players. The departure of their brawny defenders Alvaro Silva (Suphanburi FC) and Martin Steuble (Port FC), creative midfielder Manuel Ott (Ratchaburi FC) and their speedy striker Patrick Reichelt (Melaka Utd.).
However, the Busmen still have the hot-scoring Bienvenido Marañon and Stephan Schröck. They also acquired the services of Miguel Tanton from their opponents this Wednesday before the start of the season.
On the other hand, Kaya FC-Iloilo can rely on Jordan Mintah who’s chasing Ceres’ Marañon in the top scorer’s race. Mintah currently has nine goals in five matches and will look extend it at the expense of the busmen. Will Mintah’s effort be enough to give their rivals their first defeat of the season?
Filling up the void
As mentioned earlier, Ceres-Negros FC saw some of their big players ply their trade outside the country making them a bit vulnerable in these situations. However, they still have a lot in store to be a step ahead of the competition.
Super Herrera can still provide such tenacity at the back with the help of Carli de Murga and Sean Kane. They can also utilize Tanton a lot as well knowing that the midfielder has been an integral part of Kaya FC-Iloilo’s squad on course to their Copa Paulino Alcantara win.
He can provide those incisive passes to the front as well as some high-arching balls inside the box or even a shot from distance.
The Busmen can also enjoy the firepower of Blake Powell, Marañon and Mahir Karic who just joined the squad since the start of the year. They can also maximize Schröck whose strength doesn’t seem to fade away.
With those points being made, the departure of their prized players might not affect them too much in this battle against Kaya but up to what extent?
Tired Legs vs Momentum, perhaps?
Another thing to watch out for might be how Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic chooses to rotate his squad for this fixture, considering the wear and tear they’ve accumulated in continental competition.
Ceres captain Schrock himself noted this in his post-match interview last week against GAU with this outlet that some members of the squad are running tired, having been playing since the Suzuki Cup back in November.
With legginess from international duty, another deep run in AFC competitions and reduced numbers, will the Busmen be able to shuffle the pack and play their best?
Considering that Kaya FC-Iloilo just drew one game and won all of the other five in the league, the visitors will have some momentum coming into this game, plus, they’re facing none other than the two-time PFL champions and they worthy adversary so the will to win should be there.
Kaya’s Rotational prowess
Coach Noel Marcaida’s been rotating his squad well over the last few games giving his players to show their flexibility and find their comfort zone in the field.
We took some time to look into the formations used by coach Marcaida for his side and it was just mind-boggling. Over the last three games, he utilized the 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 formation and it worked some wonders for his side.
In their win against Mendiola FC 1991, Marcaida went for a 4-2-3-1 formation with Eric Giganto and Connor Tacagni bombarding the wings with flashy runs.
Their defensive setup saw Shirmar Felongco, Audie Menzi and Tyler Matas starting for Marcaida. Felongco also scored in the said match.
It was also the breakthrough game for Giganto who scored his brace and earned him his spot in the starting line-up. You would see him start again for Kaya over the next three games.
In their masterclass against Philippine Air Force FC, their team saw four different scorers. This time, Marcaida opted for a 4-4-2 formation which saw Arnie Pasinabo start in replacement of Connor Tacagni.
He provided some help in offence including a penalty he won when he was taken down inside the box. Also, Giganto, proving that he earned the spot in the starting 11, provided two assists in the said match.
In terms of their defense, Jalsor Soriano, Melo Tacusalme, and Chy Villaseñor got a taste of the starting 11 as well.
Marcaida would then make another change in their defensive structure in their draw against Green Archers United. From playing left back, Jalsor was moved to the right exchanging positions with Villaseñor.
He would also go back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation with Daniel Roberts playing as a false-nine behind Jordan Mintah.
Alfred Osei was a mainstay in midfield for Kaya while Yannick Tuason Arnel Amita got his first start of the season. Though they weren’t able to score in this match, it was still a plus on their tactical rotation.
Just looking at the depth of their squad, they’ve managed to give almost everyone in their team the chance to start and even provide such stellar performances.
The only question is, will it be enough to win against their worthy opponents? All of those questions will be answered on July 10, 2019 at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite where both teams will square of at 3:30 PM.
Make sure to follow the Philippines Football League for the livestream to be provided on Facebook and also on pfltv.ph or you can just drop by Carmona to watch the games live!