GLOBAL and Kaya, which emerged as the top two teams in the last League play, face off in a potentially explosive knockout encounter as the United Football League Cup quarterfinals kick off on Tuesday at the University of Makati pitch.
The lone playoff match is set at 7 p.m. with both heavyweights hoping to prove who really is the best team in the league at the moment.
Global, though, comes in as the favorite against a defense-oriented Kaya squad owing to the nine national team players in its fold.
“They are the League champions and they’ve only gotten stronger,” Kaya defender Jason Sabio said of Global during a press conference at Kublai’s Rock in Magallanes, Makati on Monday. “It was tough to draw Global.”
Kaya finished second behind Green Archers United in Group B with three wins and one loss for 10 points. The Archers also have 10 points but had a two-point goal lead over Kaya.
Global, which, apart from its Azkals players, can also count on Sudanese striker Izzo El-Habbib and Alex Obiang, finished on top of Group A after compiling three wins and a lone loss for 10 points.
With Global emerging as the top team in Group A and Kaya the second best in Group B, the marquee pairing became possible.
“It’s not only going to be a test of ability but also of mental toughness,” said Sabio, who remains in doubt for the match due to a groin injury.
Sabio added his team will definitely go for the win, but a loss would not be considered a failure as it is more focused on the next edition of the League.
“The League is still the main goal. We fell short last season. Whatever the result, we’ll build on that,” said Sabio, whose team only surrendered the last League crown due to goal difference.
In a separate pairing of upcoming teams, Stallion, led by two sensational Spanish strikers in Rufo Sanchez and Joaco Caña, faces General Trias on November 8.
Stallion finished the elimination round as the leader in Group D with nine points, while newcomer General Trias finished second behind Global in Group A with eight points to emerge as the Cup’s darkhorse team.
“They are in the same position we were in last year. We’re on the other side of the fence now. I expect it be a hard-fought game,” Stallion coach Ernie Nierras said.
The matches postponed from Sunday that would determine the last quarterfinal berth in Group C is set to be held later on Monday at Umak.
Loyola Meralco and Pachanga, which are tied with six points, dispute the playoff berth by facing separate opponents. The Sparks take on Mendiola at 7 p.m. while Pachanga faces Laos at 9 o’clock.