The Beginner's Guide to the Capital Clasico

(Graphics by Jesus Erick Mangilit, photo by Michael Joseph Romero.)
By Kevin Estrada

On the 17th of June, Philippine football's longest top flight rivalry takes place in the spiritual home of domestic football, as Kaya FC-Makati and Meralco Manila lock horns in the PFL's first ever Capital Clasico in UMak.

In their sixteenth meeting in league play, fireworks will abound as they push their wits in what both teams describe as a "war" on the pitch for the top two sides of the league

Loyola shocked Kaya on May 2, 2010 on a lone header by current Ateneo gaffer Jaypee Merida. Back then, Kaya were like the only club that can challenge the AFP sides, so a loss to a midtable club back then was a big blow to their title hopes. In their first encounter, Kaya clobbered the then-Blue Eagle alumni squad for five unanswered goals.

Flash forward to 2011, when no less than Mr. MVP took over the club and made the biggest signings in Pinoy footballing history by acquiring Phil and James Younghusband that turned Loyola from strugglers to contenders.

December 5, 2011 was the date the rivalry went full bloom, when the Sparks came from three goals down to stun Kaya in the Cup semifinal. A five goal blitz in the second half send Loyola to the Cup final, and since then, the intense nature of the fixture became a norm in Philippine football.

In their 22 games spanning seven years, Kaya leads Loyola on wins 9-7, with six stalemates.

But in league play since the UFL, ther was absolute parity as both teams tote a can of popular sardines in their record books.

Back in 2012 that there are already three players who played for both sides. Since then, add Anton and Armand Del Rosario, Eddie Mallari, Mark Valeroso, Jonah Romero, Charlie Beaton and Ref Cuaresma, bringing the total number to ten.

Both teams take this clasico seriously, as they they prepare for it for two weeks ago.

Meralco Manila were the busiest to prepare, even training at the Alabang Country Club to adjust to thr surface of UMak and after that, they unveil their replica kits two days before matchday.

Both clubs expect a battle royal on the pitch, recognizing the level of hate and intensity between two clubs.

This was also true to the men who went there for the pre-match conference, all of whom will be first timers to the Capital Clasico.

“From what I heard, Kaya is going to be very physical, so expect a lot of intensity from both teams. But don’t expect us to lower our play, just because they’re being more physical,” right-back Tyler Matas said.

For Marwin Angeles, his experience with Global and Ceres in playing against the Sparks will hopefully help him step up his game for Kaya.

“It's always difficult to beat Meralco Manila, so it's not gonna change the way I play now with Kaya. Our teammates are concentrated on the match,” the Kaya rookie said, as he hopes for a jampacked UMak as he strives to get his third goal in their own turf.

With seven years of intense football rivalry coming to fore, the Kaya-Loyola rivalry will heat up a notch when they defend Makati and Manila not just for personal bragging rights, but also for their respective cities.

The Nation's Capital against the Business Capital. Una Kaya or Siklab Ng Maynila.
Take your pick.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada