Match Preview: Meralco Manila v Ceres-Negros

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Ceres-Negros returns to the capital to meet the FC Meralco Manila for the first time this season on July 15 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. The Busmen have a daunting task ahead as the league leaders are still unbeaten in the competition.

The two teams met twice in league action last year with Meralco edging out Ceres in a 3-2 decision in their first meeting while the Bacolod squad got the better of the Manila squad with a 4-1 win in the second round.

Both clubs were busy in the off season in the acquisition of different players for their respective campaigns. Tyler Matas, Ashley Flores, and returnee Curt Dizon have shored up vital positions in their squad including a steal of former Global centerback Milan Nikolic. Ceres meanwhile have added plenty of veterans such Iain Ramsay, Simone Rota, and OJ Porteria to beef up their core.

Meralco has been on top largely to great defensive performances as they have only conceded six goals after nine games led by the partnership of Joaco Canas and Nikolic. A stronger attack from last year has complemented the defensive line eking out wins against top four teams in Kaya and JP Voltes.

Ceres meanwhile has been on an offensive tear, scoring the most number of goals in the league with twenty three. The midfield combination of Manny Ott, Kevin Ingreso, and Bienvenido Maranon has been instrumental in building up the offense, allowing a free flowing attack complimented by Stephan Schrock, Porteria, and Fernando Rodriguez.

The Manila squad hasn’t been beaten in the Rizal Memorial since the start of the tournament while the Negros side has yet to score an away win this season. Meralco is gunning for a win to legitimize their number one ranking while Ceres is eager to prove their mettle against the league leaders.

“We have a big respect to Meralco because they lead the table, so for us its a challenge,” said Ceres Coach Risto Vidakovic. “They’re an unbeaten team and we will try to do out best to be the first team, this year, to defeat them. I hope that my players will give one-hundred percent tomorrow and make a good game,” he added.

Ceres Co-Captain Louie Michael Casas believes that his team is ready for the tomorrow’s challenge. “The team is motivated. We are training for a week already so we can give our two-hundred percent for tomorrow’s game. For me it will a good game tomorrow especially they’re the number one team in the table.”

Ceres-Negros will have the benefit of a full squad in tomorrow with no suspensions or injuries on the plate. Meralco Manila will be missing Ashley Flores dues to accumulated yellows and will have Joaco Canas on the fence after getting a serious cut from last week. The match kicks off at 4PM on Saturday with the match shown live over PTV or the PFF livestream channel. Tickets, according to the Meralco Manila, are pegged at P50 for the Grandstand and P20 for the bleachers.

Photo from UFL Philippines