Kaya FC–Iloilo gears up for first clash with rival Ceres Negros

LAST YEAR’S League and Cup Champions are set to go head-to-head on Wednesday, at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona. The highly anticipated clash between the Western Visayas rivals kicks off at 3:30 p.m., and will air live over PFLTV.ph

With both clubs officially out of this year’s AFC Cup, the priority has switched to dominance in the Philippines Football League and qualification for next year’s edition of continental football. Wednesday’s match comes at a vital moment in the early goings of the season, as both sides are neck and neck in the standings, with both sporting unbeaten records.

Historically, the matchup has favored the Bacolod powerhouse. In 2017, while every match was a thriller, Ceres edged Kaya in all six of their encounters. A year later, Negros shaded the series with two wins, two draws, and one loss en route to a second straight PFL title. This year, Kaya, the Copa Paulino Alcantara holders, are determined to turn the tide.

“We will be working on how to manage Ceres’ comfort on the ball. We need to manage the discipline and shape when we don’t have the ball. If you give them enough space, they will really operate and create chances. They have the capacity to really punish you,” said Kaya head coach Noel Marcaida.

Iloilo are fresh from a scoreless draw against Green Archers United — the only hiccup after five straight victories to start the season. After a rather subdued performance over the weekend, Marcaida is hopeful that his squad will rediscover the killer instinct that he felt was missing.

“We give chances to everyone, but if you don’t perform, that chance will be given to another player. It’s a question of how much to do you want to play the game and how much do you want to win the league. In the Archers game I didn’t see that fire. Hopefully everything will change in this quick turnaround. It’s a big challenge,” he said.

Meanwhile Ceres Negros enter the contest with fresh legs, after their weekend assignment against Stallion Laguna was postponed due to heavy rains. Wednesday’s match will be the first of four fixtures between the Visayas rivals, and will be aired via livestream over PFLTV.ph.