WITH the UAAP Season 79 men’s football semifinals a one-and-done thing, Ateneo and University of the Philippines hope that their efforts of finishing 1-2 in the eliminations won’t go down the drain.
The Blue Eagles take on No. 4 University of Santo Tomas, while the Fighting Maroons will play against an old adversary – the third-ranked Far Eastern University, in a pair of interesting knockout matches today at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The winners will advance to the one-game finals on Sunday at the same Malate venue.
With his wards finishing on top of the league table with 35 points, Ateneo coach JP Merida is very much aware that their efforts will go for naught if they fail to win games that matter most.
The Blue Eagles routed the Growling Tigers, 5-1, in the first round, before settling for a 1-0 scoreline in the second round, where a late own goal bailed out the Katipunan-based booters.
“It’s hard to underestimate UST. All of the players must perform,” said Merida, who is eyeing to steer Ateneo to a second straight finals appearance.
The Tigers may have lost to the Eagles twice in the eliminations, but coach Marjo Allado remains confident that his troops would pull off a reversal in the 3 p.m. match.
“It’s a different ballgame this semifinals,” said Allado.
In the 5 p.m. clash, the Tamaraws are back in the Final Four after a one-year absence, hoping to bring back the winning tradition they were known for in the past few seasons.
“FEU is always tough to play against. Technically, they are very skilled and they have experienced players. I think it’s going to be an exciting match,” said UP coach Anto Gonzales, who is seeking to guide his troops for a second straight title.
The Maroons lost to the Tamaraws, 0-1, during extra time two years ago in the semifinals.
Definitely, this is an interesting match-up as FEU and UP fought to a scoreless standoff in the first round before the defending champions came through with a 1-0 win in the second round.