David Perkovic: Year One
Rick Olivares (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2014 - 10:47am

In a few weeks, Australian David Perkovic will have been in the Philippines for a year as head coach for Kaya.

A year. It’s a sign of stability for a club that went through three coaching changes in the space of a year with players going through the revolving door. The 18-year-old football club has yet to recover its imperious form from the 2012 UFL season where they finished a close second to then-champion Global losing only via goal difference.

When Perkovic took over, the club was in disarray. By mid-season, the ship had been righted and Kaya climbed the table to finish fourth. They were the only club to defeat Global twice. Not even eventual champion Stallion was able to take the three full points from the Brian Reid-coached club. Kaya finished with an 8-7-3 record.

“If we only won a few of those tied matches, it would have been an entirely different season for us,” said team manager Justin Tolentino.

For all the changes, the club has settled down and started to play better this season. They are currently at third place in the table with a 5-1-2 record but is 10 points adrift of leader, Loyola, 26-16.

We took the time out to talk to Perkovic about his “Year One” in the country as well as to solicit his thoughts about the outlook for Kaya this season.

Rick: You’ve been here for a year…

David: By March it will be one year.

Rick: So how was the transition from Australia to the Philippines?

David: The football in Australia as compared to the Philippines is very different. The main adjustment would have to be dealing with the smaller pitch that we currently play in at the Emperador Stadium. The ability to keep the ball is more difficult. It promotes a more direct style of play, which is for me not the way modern football is heading. Although I have to say that the field is better suited for the fans in terms of excitement.

My personal transition began long before I got here. The appointments of Paul and Justin Tolentino started all this. The team is now very different to the squad when I first got here. We’re more fluid and as individuals, are able to play the style of football that we as a club want to implement.

Rick: Aside from the improvement of Kaya, in that year you’ve been here, have you seen changes and growth in Philippine football?

David: The level of football in the Philippines is getting better. In the near future, with the implementation of a national league will only further its development.

I think the UFL Youth League is a great way to get kids playing more football. I also think the decision of the UFL to place a cap on the number of foreigners is a fantastic move. Last season we saw many teams with a lot of foreigners on the roster. That includes Kaya. Now we are seeing more and more Filipinos players receive significant playing time. That will only strengthen the national team.

Rick: Can you cite three of your team’s most memorable matches in this first year? And why do they rank so high up there?

David: Both games against Global last season. We were trailing 2-0 for both games but we ended up winning them, 3-2. The other would be this year against Pasargad. We were losing 1-0 at half time and ended up winning, 3-1. We had nine shots on goal in the first half with nothing to show for it. They only had one shot on goal and they scored. We showed patience and great composure for all three games.

Rick: Are you enjoying yourself then?

David: Most definitely! Kaya has given me a great opportunity to implement my ideas about football and how it should be played. And I can only be grateful for all of this.

Rick: Having said that, have you picked up on Filipino as a language?

David: Have I learnt the local language? I know the very basics. I actually started having one of our PTs giving me lessons in Filipino but it didn’t last very long because she had to go abroad. Now that she is back I should really get started on those lessons again!

Rick: How do you assess Kaya’s chances this new season?

David: Well, we are a third way into the season and we are in touch with the league leaders after eight matches (Kaya figured in a scoreless draw with Loyola, thrashed Army 9-1, defeated Pasargad 3-1, and crushed Green Archers United, 3-0 to take points in their last four fixtures). I have been happy with our efforts in our last three performances. If we can maintain that effort and of course, get better everyday at practice, then we have a chance.

Rick: This is a different Kaya team. Who among the newcomers are performing well?

David: In terms of the new signings, all of them are doing well. (Ghanaian defender) Alfred Osei in his last game was outstanding. (Australian midfielder) Richard Greer has been getting better with every game. (Forward) Jovin Bedic has shown real commitment to come back from injury to start most of the games this season. I expect that as the season goes on, more and more of our players will develop further.

I am also proud of the fact that six of Kaya’s players have been called up to the national team with Nick O’Donnell (goalkeeper), Drew Liauw (defender), and Kenshiro Daniels (midfielder) all receiving their first call up.

Rick: Nice! Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions, coach.

David: Thanks, Rick. I hope to see you at the games as soon as you are feeling better.

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