THE quest for national football supremacy heats up as the Philippine Football Federation-Smart Club Championship enters the round of four on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Three United Football League clubs and one provincial squad are vying for the recognition as the country’s best football club. Negros Occidental-based Ceres, the remaining non-UFL team in the cast, tries to sustain its giant-killing ways when its takes on UFL league runner-up Kaya at 4 p.m., before Pasargad faces Green Archers United two hours later.
Coach Freddie Lazarito steered Ceres to victories against UFL titlists Stallion and Global in the past two weeks and now they brace for another tough match against Kaya.
“I hope we will do it again. We’ll try our best for the sake of the people in Negros,” he said during a press conference on Thursday at the PFF office in Pasig.
Kaya striker Nate Burkey lauded Ceres for its great exploits but said his team, although without veterans Aly Borromeo and Anton del Rosario, will have to end the Negros Occidental squad’s dream run.
“It’s exciting to see a provincial team make it this far. We’re honored to play them,” said Burkey, who has scored two goals so far in the tournament. In the other semifinal match, the tournament’s leading scorer Chieffy Caligdong (three goals) and the Archers battle Iranian-laden Pasargad.
Caligdong, the former Air Force FC player, seemed to be right at home when he played his first two matches with the Archers but the team chemistry will be put to test anew when they battle Pasargad. Filipino-Belgian Angelo Marasigan, who scored the winner in his debut for Pasargad in their quarterfinal game against General Trias International, issued a warning about complacency.
“I’m not saying we could win the tournament, but we are an opponent you have to be careful with,” said Marasigan. The champion will bag P100,000 aside from the trophy, according to Smart Sports manager Epok Quimpo.