Ceres-Negros returns to Philippines Football League action when it faces a resurgent Kaya FC-Makati on August 12 at the University of Makati Stadium. The LBC-backed squad who recently had a seven-game unbeaten streak ended looks to regain its winning ways when it faces Ceres who is currently in a three game winning streak in the PFL.
Both teams have met in the league twice, first in Makati where Kaya earned a 1-1 draw at home and more recently in Bacolod where Ceres hacked out a hard-earned 3-1 victory. It was Bienvenido Maranon who shone last June 25, scoring a hat trick in their second match.
The Busmen took the lead just before the halftime whistle when Maranon broke the offside trap but Kaya delivered a beauty of an equalizer ten minutes after the restart care of Robert Mendy. Maranon was fouled in the box by the Kaya keeper and Spaniard converted the go-ahead goal at the 69th minute. The Spanish attacker completed his hat trick with a lovely strike two minutes from time to secure three points for the Negros squad. The next game however will be played in Makati with a well-rested Kaya squad out to defend their turf.
I think its gonna be a very tough game,” said Ceres Captain Martin Steble. “Kaya has always proven to be a tough opponent. They are very organized and for me, one of the toughest opponents in the league. We’ve had big games against them in the past and I don’t think its gonna be different this time.”
When asked if the quick switch from the AFC Cup the the PFL win would affect their performance in the next game, Steuble believes that it is not the case. “I don’t think its gonna affect the game, anyhow we’re very happy still with what we’ve achieved in the AFC Cup. I think we’re professional enough to put the refocus on the league,” said the former MLS player.
The former Azkal also stressed the significance of the domestic competition and why it is a priority for the club. “The league is a very important competition for us. It allows us to represent the club internationally next year so we put all the focus on that game.”
Weather conditions will be a challenge again as a 4PM kickoff is set in the UMak pitch. It will be the first of two games where the Bacolod squad will have to play in the afternoon after playing a grueling series with Home United in the AFC Cup.
Ceres Coach Risto Vidakovic sees the next two games as battle for survival with the Inter-zone semis set with less than two weeks to go. “In the next two games against Kaya and against Meralco, I think we have to try to survive to be safe for the next AFC Cup game. After the (Zonal) finals in the AFC Cup, its not easy to prepare the team especially in the short time we have. The players are still celebrating the big win over Home United. As I said before for these two games, we are just trying to survive and try to get to Dushanbe on safe conditions,” said Vidakovic.
Kaya-Makati is currently in third place with 27 points after 15 games. Ceres-Negros is at fourth with 22 points in ten matches. Kaya is only three points behind league leaders Meralco Manila and a win will catapult them back to first place. A win by Negros will solidify the club’s hold in fourth spot with plenty of matches to spare. Tickets will be available onsite at the UMak stadium with a livestream to be possibly provided to the regional fans.
Photo from Stephen Tan