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MANILA, Philippines – The unblemished win-loss record of powerhouse Kaya FC-Iloilo will be on the line as it plays Davao Aguilas-UMak FC in the Finals of the Copa Paulino Alcantara 2023 on Saturday, December 9, 7 pm at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Kaya FC swept all of its five group stage matches as it topped Group A with 15 points and an absurd +38 goal difference to go with three clean sheets.
Bunched in Group A with Kaya FC were CF Manila, Philippine Air Force, Far Eastern University, Loyola FC, and Don Bosco-Garelli United FC.
In the quarterfinals, Kaya FC wrecked the University of the Philippines with an aggregate score of 11-0 over two legs to set up a titanic clash against Group C table-toppers Stallion Laguna FC in the two-legged semifinals.
Kaya FC won both legs – with a scoreline of 2-1 in each match – to clinch a fifth consecutive Finals appearance in the Copa Paulino Alcantara, which is also known as the Philippine Football League (PFL) Cup.
On the other hand, Davao Aguilas finally returned to the championship round of the Copa Paulino Alcantara for the first time since its inaugural season in 2018 where it lost 1-0 to Kaya FC after extra time.
Davao punched a ticket to the knockout round this year by placing second in Group C with 10 points and a +4 goal difference.
Bunched in Group C with Davao were Stallion, Mendiola 1991 FC, Tuloy FC, Philippine Army FC, and Adamson University.
In the quarters, Davao eliminated CF Manila with an aggregate score of 2-0, then in the semis, it upset Group B winners Dynamic Herb Cebu FC in a thrilling two-legged fixture that finished 2-1 and was highlighted by an extraordinary long-range goal from Pocholo Bugas.
The cup tournament was only launched in 2018 and was named after the legendary Paulino Alcantara, a Filipino-Spanish professional football player that had a remarkable playing stint with FC Barcelona as he was able to play 399 games and score 395 goals in a span of 15 seasons.
A record of 17 teams participated in this year’s tournament and were divided into three groups, with only the top two teams in each group and the two best third-placed teams advancing to the knockout round.
Since both teams were drawn into two different groups in the elimination round, the title clash will be the first meeting of Kaya FC and Davao in the Copa Paulino Alcantara this season.
Senegalese forward Abou Sy of Kaya FC looks to lead his team to a third title as he is currently the tournament leader in the goal scoring chart with 10.
Aside from Sy, Kaya FC has five other players who have scored at least five goals in this year’s Copa Paulino Alcantara.
Justin Baas, who also plays for the Philippine Azkals, has found the net six times alongside Japanese winger Daizo Horikoshi and Argentinian veteran Ricardo Sendra.
Arnel Amita and Jarvey Gayoso, two players with Azkals experience, have 5 goals each this season to complete a balanced attack for Kaya FC.
Davao team captain Yannick Tuason, who has been in superb form all season, leads the team in scoring with 5 goals.
Supporting the 34-year-old Tuason in attack is recent Azkals call-up Pocholo Bugas and Marvin Angeles, the twin brother of Marwin, who plays for Kaya FC.
Davao leaked 10 goals in the group stage but its defense improved in the knockout round as it only conceded once, a 1-1 draw in the second leg of the semis versus Cebu FC.
Goalkeeper Dini Tato Ouattara and defenders OJ Clariño, Reynald Villareal, Pete Forrosuelo, Richard Talaroc, and Nicolas Ferrer Jr. will be Davao’s key players at the backline as they try to contain the ridiculous goal scoring prowess of Kaya FC.
Before the championship match, Palawan FC and Kaya FC-Iloilo will vie for the PFF Under-19 Boys Final title at 3:30 pm in the same venue. – Rappler.com