LEAGUE-leading Meralco Manila faces its toughest test yet when it battles second-ranked Kaya FC Makati in what promises to be an explosive Metro Manila derby in the Philippines Football League at University of Makati Stadium.
Getting solid performances from the entire squad, the Sparks have collected 12 points from four matches so far for the early lead. But they are expected to find themselves in a dogfight against a tough Kaya side in their 4 p.m. clash.
Simultaneously at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, JPV Marikina guns for a third straight victory against powerhouse Ceres Negros.
With nine points from five matches, JPV is running third behind Meralco and Kaya, but the Busmen are going into the match, riding high on their 1-0 home win over Global Cebu two weeks ago.
Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic, however, is expected to shuffle his men with midfielders Manny Ott, Kevin Ingreso, Iain Ramsay and Luke Woodland coming off a long trip from Dushanbe after playing for the national team.
JPV has central defender Camelo Tacusalme returning to the side, although he only saw action for the Azkals in the 1-8 friendly loss to China.
The match starts a tough run of games for the Busmen, who will also play in the Singapore Cup on Tuesday.
Sparks skipper James Younghusband is doubtful for the clash due to an ankle injury sustained while on national team duty and it remains to be seen if Meralco coach Aris Caslib will start Phil Younghusband considering that the striker just came off a long trip from Dushanbe after scoring in the Philippines’ 4-3 win over Tajikistan in Asian Cup Qualifying.
“We hope to have a good game against Kaya which is a counter-attacking team,” said Caslib. “If we want to win (the title), we need to get every point.”
Caslib won’t be in a rush to put in the Younghusband brothers, saying that they would just have to adjust with their preparations.
“We have been informed of the injury,” said Caslib, referring to James. As for Phil, Caslib said “we have to check how quickly he can adapt to the travel.”
“It’s something we talk about with the players that we don’t want to push them hard,” Caslib added.
A win by Kaya, which has 10 points, will allow the Makati club to supplant Meralco at the top of the table. But coach Noel Marcaida’s men would have to do it without midfielders Miguel Tanton (suspension) and Woody Ugarte (injury).