UAAP 81 Football Finals: Ateneo, DLSU coaches expecting exciting Finals matchup

Santino Honasan on May 09, 2019 08:04 PM
UAAP 81 Football: Coaches expecting exciting Finals match
Collegiate rivals Ateneo and DLSU will do battle on the football pitch for the first time in 13 years. (FILE PHOTO)

For the first time in 13 years, collegiate rivals Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University will be facing off in the UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Finals. 

Top-seeded Ateneo took care of business against fourth-seeded Far Eastern University in the semifinals, while third-seeded DLSU upset second-seeded defending champions University of the Philippines in their Final Four pairing. 

Now, the two sides meet to determine who brings home the UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Championship. 

For Ateneo, it's a chance to capture their second title in three years. For La Salle, it's an opportunity to bring a men's football title back to Taft for the first time since the 1997-1998 season. 

Interestingly enough, one of the members of that last title-winning DLSU squad is none other than current DLSU coach Alvin Ocampo, who has basically taken over the head coaching duties for long-time mentor Hans-Peter Smit, who still oversees the DLSU Football Program. 

Ocampo sees the rivalry matchup as a good thing Philippine football. 

"[This will be] good for Philippine football, because definitely, Rizal will be packed, at least this will up the ante of the crowd," Ocampo told ABS-CBN Sports.

Apart from that, Ocampo also expects the Ateneo-La Salle battle as a reunion of sorts, being that both communities will surely want to be in attendance for the season finale. 

"Plus, reunion game yan ng mga previous na La Salle-Ateneo games eh, siyempre pride yan eh, walang mag-papatalo," he said. 

Ateneo head coach Jaypee Merida echoed Ocampo's sentiments about the crowd. After all, no matter the setting, an Ateneo-La Salle battle will always draw large contingents from both sides. 

"Of course we’re excited because it’s a rivalry game, it’s Ateneo-La Salle, talagang we’re expecting more crowds," Merida stated.

Merida feels that the Taft-based side will have a bit of a home-field advantage given that they will be playing at the historic Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, which serves a DLSU's training ground. 

"We need to be ready, kailangan hindi kami mag-create ng small details para hindi kami mag-concede ng goals." 

"Towards this championship, kailangan namin na mag-ready mentally talaga. It’s Ateneo-La Salle, it’s a battle of hearts, so we need to be ready talaga, we need to work, dapat hindi kami mag-create ng small mistakes," Merida added. 

Ateneo and De La Salle battle for the UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Championship on Thursday, May 16th at 4:30 PM. 

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