Incumbent UFL League champion Ceres-La Salle FC will face current UFL Cup Champion Kaya FC for the UFL Cup Semifinals on April 6, 2016 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Both teams are facing each other for the first time since last years UFL Cup Final where a 10-man Kaya side overcame Ceres in a penalty shootout which allowed them to raise their first trophy after many years. The win by Kaya propelled them to a playoff spot in the AFC Cup which later turned out to be a direct entry to the group stages of the competition. The match is considered a ‘Super Cup’, where two current champions battle for pride and most importantly a slot in the cup final where a 2017 AFC Cup playoff spot is at stake.
Ceres has done well in the UFL Cup, securing the status of top seed in Group B after four games which allowed them to experiment against their last game group game against Global FC. The Bacolod squad had an easier route facing a less heralded Forza squad, allowing them to rest key players in the process.
Kaya on the other hand finished second in Group A after 0-1 loss against Stallion in opening day and winning the rest of the way. The LBC-backed squad had the hardest path to the Semis where they came back from a goal down to defeat Loyola in the final minute.
A lot of things have changed since the 2015 Cup Final for both teams. Gone are Kaya’s goalscorers in last year’s final in Tishan Hanley and Diego Barrera, and were now replaced by Robert Lopez-Mendy and Woody Ugarte. Ceres has been running the same team but with additions in Kevin Ingreso and Stephan Shrock.
The Philippine representatives to the AFC Cup have been doing well after the first round of games with Kaya and Ceres getting 6 and 5 points respectively. Kaya lost their opening game in Hong Kong with a slim 0-1 defeat against Kitchee while winning their next games against Balestier Khalsa and New Radiant. Ceres are still undefeated scoring draws against Selangor and Tampines Rovers and winning away against Sheikh Jamal.
Both teams are coming to the semifinal on a high and are expected to bring their A-game in the semifinal. “Well its gonna be a good game, like Kaya and Ceres are in the AFC Cup. Both of the teams are gonna be strong and for sure Kaya will give their best as well. We will get back the loss that we had in the UFL Cup (final) last year,” said Ceres Team Manager James Dinsay. “Every game for us, we’re a hundred percent. We have some injuries but the rest of the guys fit and are ready to play versus Kaya,” he added.
The semifinal also adds a twist as Ceres’ Jalsor Soriano will possibly face his brother in Kaya’s Janrick Soriano. The brothers from Bacolod City will have a chance to influence this rivalry where only one goes out as the winner “Excited man sa semifinal kay makitanay kami liwat. Sa last namon na kontrahanay wa-ay ko ka hampang, pero ini na opportunity ihatag gid ang 100 percent nga maenjoy namon liwat ang hampang na duwa, brother to brother.” (I’m also) excited in the semifinal because we’ll see each other again. In our last game I did not play but in this opportunity I will give my 100 percent and that we’ll both enjoy the game, brother to brother] , said Ceres defender Jalsor Soriano.
The match will start at 815PM which will be preceded by the first semifinal match between Stallion FC and Global FC. April 16 will be the final day of the Cup at the Rizal Memorial Stadium with the plate championship game starting at 215PM and the 3rd place match following at 515PM. The Cup Final will start at 815PM on the same day.
All Photos are courtesy of the United Football League (www.uflph.com)