FC Meralco Manila girds for Kaya battle, launches replica jerseys
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 16, 2017 12:20 PM
Left to Right: Mizuno Ph's Mickey Regala, FC Meralco Manila General Manager Isabella Fernando, players Milan Nikolic, Curt Dizon, Tahj Minniecon, Simon Greatwich, Joaquin Caņas Garcia, Alvin Sarmiento and Mizuno's William James Sanchez.
The Kaya-Meralco fixture has always been hard-fought and entertaining from their days in the United Football League. On Saturday the two sides cross swords once again, for the first time in the Philippines Football League at the University of Makati at 4:00 pm.
“I heard Kaya will be physical,” said Manila wide man Tyler Matas, who is experiencing the derby for the first time.
“But expect us to play just as physical,” added the Hawaiian-born Filipino-American at Thursday's pre-match press conference in the PFF House of Football.
Manila is atop the league standings with four wins from four matches, adding up to a maximum 12 points. But Makati is two points behind them thanks to three wins, a loss and a draw.
A Kaya victory over the weekend thrusts them into the pinnacle of the table, although Meralco will have a match in hand.
An absorbing tactical battle beckons, with Sparks coach Aris Caslib praising Kaya's quick counterattacking ability.
Caslib's counterpart, Noel Marcaida, promises a fierce battle, saying “we want to defend our home turf against any team,” at the press conference.
Kaya, the home side, will be without key midfield cog Miguel Tanton, who was dismissed for two bookings in the recent 1-0 win over Stallion Laguna, and will serve a one-game suspension over the weekend.
Manila could have some injury issues. Captain and leading scorer James Younghusband hurt his ankle in the Azkals' friendly loss to China last week and it's not clear if he can win a race to fitness by Saturday. His younger brother Phil played in both Azkals games in the recent international window and will likely be tired but is free from injury concerns.
Also reportedly in sick bay is midfielder Daniel Gadia, who is down with the flu. Another midfielder, James Hall, is recovering well from a bout with measles and has been training.
Kaya's strike force of Jordan Mintah and Robert Lopez-Mendy will be a firm test for Meralco's centerback pairing of Milan Nikolic and Joaco Cañas.
Tickets for Saturday's match are priced at P20 for bleacher seats and P350 for the grandstand.
Hours before the press conference the Sparks officially launched the sale of their replica jersey to the public in a launch event at Bootcamp BGC.
“This kit represents our commitment to support the development of the sport in different regions,” said Mizuno Philippines' Sports Marketing Officer, Mickey Regala.
Meralco's 2017 kit from the legendary Japanese sports equipment brand is available in orange, black and white, and uses Dry Science technology to wick sweat away from the athlete. Regala says the replica kit available to fans is virtually identical to the one the players use on the pitch.
The shirt retails for P1495 and is currently available at Bootcamp in BGC. According to Mizuno it will soon be in stock at Mizuno outlets in SM Mall of Asia and Alabang, was well as in Bootcamp's store in Katipunan, Quezon City.
Six top players from the squad were on hand to model the new kits, namely Tahj Minniecon, Nikolic, Cañas, Alvin Sarmiento, Simon Greatwich and Curt Dizon.
Regala also unveiled their new Morelia Neo II football boots that many of the Philippines' top national players, including Spark Daniel Gadia, rely on. The Neo II featured premium kangaroo leather for optimum feel and touch.
The Neo II AG (Artificial Ground) was also displayed. It features a stud pattern tailored for the artificial surfaces prevalent in the modern game.