Sitting on top of the table two weeks into the inaugural Philippines Football League season, FC Meralco Manila coach Aris Caslib feels his squad has yet to play to its potential after toiling to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over newcomer Ilocos United on Saturday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Goals from new signing Tyler Matas and Jake Morallo in each half completed another fightback for the Manila side, which fell behind on former Meralco player and now Ilocos striker Graham Caygill’s 13th minute strike.
“We expected a tough match and that’s what happened especially because a big number of players used to play for Meralco,” said Caslib, a former national team mentor.
“But we never expected that they will play until the final whistle. Credit to the players for finishing the game strong.”
Caslib still feels his team is lacking that “killer instinct” to put away teams after watching Meralco struggle to find a third goal that could have sealed the match earlier.
“The team showed we have a strong rebound mentality but we have to develop our killer instinct,” said Caslib, whose team also rallied from a goal down to beat Stallion Laguna, 5-1, last May 6.
Meralco got off to a jittery start with Caygill nearly spoiling its debut by opening the scoring with a volley past Ace Villanueva, before Matas equalized in the 18th minute by finishing off a flowing move which he started from his left back position.
Tahj Minniecon also provided the second goal for Morallo, who headed home from close range in the 52nd minute for the match winner.
Despite the defeat that left his side with just a point from two matches, Ilocos coach Ian Gillan took pride at the way his team fought against one of the elite sides in the PFL.
“I think we played quite well,” said Gillan. “Every single week we’re going to be on someone’s radar and cause problems against other teams.”