Archrivals Ateneo, De La Salle battle for UAAP 81’s football crown

MANILA – Fierce rivals Ateneo and De La Salle dispute the UAAP Season 81 men's football championship at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Thursday.

The one-game final is set at 4:30 p.m.

Both teams have met four times in the Finals since 1996, as the Blue Eagles and the Green Archers are level at 2-2.

Their most recent showdown was in 2006 at the Philsports pitch, with Ateneo winning 1-0 via Roger Lastimado's late goal.

Foiled by Far Eastern University in the 2015 final, De La Salle hopes to end a 21-year championship drought.

The last time the Archers ruled the league was in 1998, winning the do-or-die match against the Eagles, 5-1, for their fourth title.

Coach Alvin Ocampo hopes that his upstart De La Salle will leave everything on pitch to fulfill what their predecessors have failed to do.

“Like what (former goalkeeper) Patrick Deyto said, ‘They have to shut up coach Alvin because every time we talk about championships, it’s always the 1998 batch that we talk about,’" Ocampo said.

The rookies were instrumental in steering the Archers deep in the tournament.

Xavi Zubiri led De La Salle's 1-0 win over the Tamaraws in the final elimination match day, while Jovan Marfiga and Shanden Vergara's goals gave the Archers a 2-1 victory over University of the Philippines in the semifinal, ending the Fighting Maroons' reign.

“I think it’s high time we talk about the new batch, the new generation,” said Ocampo, a former national team top defender.

Ateneo ace striker Jarvey Gayoso, Ocampo's nephew who has 11 goals this season, has high respects for what De La Salle can do in the biggest stage.

"They are a very young team and hopefully, we will rely on our experience being in the Finals," said Gayoso, who is seeking to power the Eagles to their eighth title.

In the women's division, De La Salle and FEU, tied for the most number of championships with 10, go for all the marbles at 2 p.m. (PR)