2015 UFL Cup Final Preview

Its now or never in the United Football League and The Perfect Pass presents its the preview of the final of the Philippines’ top cup competition.

FINAL: Kaya vs Ceres

Head-to-Head (League)
14-03-2015 Kaya FC 1 – Ceres La Salle FC
19-07-2015 Ceres La Salle FC 2 – 0 Kaya FC

Last 3 Cup Games
vs Nomads 10:1
vs JP Voltes 8:0
vs Stallion 3:3 AET (5:4 in penalties)

vs UST FC 7:0
vs Archers 5:0
vs Loyola 1:0

Two undefeated teams are slugging it out to claim the remaining trophy for Philippine Club football.  Kaya started the knockout stages as the number one seed after having a superior goal difference against number two Ceres.  Both teams have had memorable semifinals with Kaya winning in a shootout and Ceres reaching the final by a solitary goal.

Ceres owns the head-to-head matchups this year but both games were closer than the scoreline suggests. Their first meeting saw Ceres get a two-goal lead only for Kaya to get a goal back but didn’t have enough time to complete a comeback.  The second game saw Kaya having the more dangerous chances but clinical finishing and great goalkeeping earned Ceres the win.  That victory sealed the league for Ceres which only needed a draw against Socceroo to raise the trophy while that loss eliminated Kaya from the race for league runner-up.

At this point, there will be no more surprises for both squads. The finalists will field the exact same lineup sans Manny Ott for Ceres and Alfred Osei for Kaya due to card suspensions.  Ott will be replaced by Paul Mulders in the middle while Kenshiro Daniels will probably move back to right back after having spells up front the last few games.  Joven Bedic might replace Daniels in the attack.  This will also be a good practice game for Daniels as he will be recalled to the Azkals for the same position.  Louis Clark will be an emergency replacement because of ankle issues that has hampered his participation in the last month.

Kaya will go all out for this game. At stake is an AFC Cup playoff incentive that will go to Global should they lose.  The LBC-backed squad just had an inspiring performance in the semis coming from two goals down to finish 3-3 after extra time and win via a penalty shootout.  But Ceres is a different animal.  The league champions are a good attacking squad with a sturdy defense.  On paper, Ceres is deep in all positions and are slight favorites in all departments.

Keys to Victory
Kaya has the tools to beat Ceres as seen from their last encounter.  They have the speed to overcome the Ceres defense but they must improve their finishing in order for them to get a result.  Their defense must be solid for a full ninety to cover for Ceres counterattacking options especially against Ceres wingers Orman Okunaiya and Bienve Marañon.  The Kaya midfield should take advantage of the absence of Manny Ott who has provided a steady presence in the middle for Ceres. They must also prepare for Paul Mulders who plays an entirely diffent style but also brings a lot of things to the table.  Tishan Hanley should bring his best to further compliment with  OJ Porteria who has been influential as of late.  It will be difficult but Kaya can pull off an upset if they maintain their discipline.

The league champions must press from the get-go to take advantage of Kaya’s fatigue from playing a grueling semifinal. If they do this, they have a fair chance of making this a lopsided win. Though Ceres has lost Manny Ott, the team has used different midfield combinations in the previous games which will contribute to their familiarity with each other on the pitch. Patrick Reichelt and Jeong Woo Lee must bounce back from their semifinal performance in order to break the Kaya goal.  As mentioned before, when Ceres plays with urgency, anything is possible for them.

Match Prediction
It will be fast and physical match with a lot of counterattacks in between.  Kaya will push to get the coveted AFC Cup slot while Ceres will try to make history with its first double and fourth straight UFL titles.  Kaya’s extended semifinal will have an effect in this game which will ultimately lead to a convincing Ceres-La Salle win


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