Kaya FC looked like a different team as it stained 2020 Philippines Football League (PFL) champion United City FC's undefeated record with a 2-1 win on Monday, November 9, at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.
The rebranded Ceres-Negros team picked up a PFL loss for the first time in two years.
With the win, Kaya FC overtook the Azkals Development Team to defend its runner-up finish with 11 points, while United City FC also picked up its first loss of the season.
It was an uphill climb for Kaya FC, but the Iloilo-based squad was motivated to cap off its PFL campaign on a high note after absorbing back-to-back draws from Mendiola FC and rival Stallion Laguna.
Kaya finally found the final touch it was looking for early in the game as Kenshiro Daniels opened the scoreline off a cross from Eric Giganto in the 14th minute.
Last year's runner-up squad continued to capitalize on United City FC – who had stars Bienvenido Marañon and Robert Lopez-Mendy on the bench at the start of the match – as Carlyle Mitchell headed in Daniel's corner in the 38th minute.
United City dug a hole too deep for itself even with the entry of the core of Marañon, Lopez-Mendy, Manny Ott and Pika Minegishi, as Southeast Asia's top football club failed to draw Kaya.
The champions only found their footing in the 83rd minute as United City pulled one back with Marañon finding Manny Ott, who fired a close-range shot for the first goal.
A minute later, captain Stephan Schrock attempted to double the lead with a beautiful free kick that curled into the goal, but Louie Casas deflected it just in time.
As United City qualifies for a historic berth in the 2021 AFC Champions League, Kaya FC is assured of a return to the cup tournament next year. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.