After a two-year absence, Kaya Football Club-Iloilo are back in the continental stage.
Needing a goal in the dying stages of extra time, Kaya became the first-ever champions of the Copa Paulino Alcantara with a 1-0 victory over the Davao Aguilas, Saturday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
It was Kaya’s first taste of silverware since the 2015 UFL Cup and, similarly, it earns them a slot in the upcoming 2019 AFC Cup.
“What makes it special for this finals aside from we wanted to go to back AFC, we were able to give honor to the legendary Paulino Alcantara because as we have known Paulino Alcantara is from Concepcion, Iloilo and as representative of Iloilo, this cup really matters for us, so we’re successful, it was a really great 2018,” commented Kaya coach Noel Marcaida.
After a goalless but tense 90 minutes, Daniel Gadia could have broken the deadlock for Davao early in extra time but he failed to hit the target. Davao’s circumstances then worsened when Wesley Dos Santos, who was already given a yellow card in the first half, was sent off after his second booking for a foul on Kaya’s Connor Tacagni.
With the numerical advantage, Kaya pushed on for the winning goal. Miguel Tanton saw his free kick agonizingly denied by the post, but the Iloilo-based club refused to be blanked right at the end.
Penalties beckoned for both squads, but Jovin Bedic had other plans when he turned in Robert Lopez-Mendy’s assist to score the winning goal in the 119th minute of extra time.
“We deserve a celebration tonight and we maximized the two months off-season where we worked hard to prepare for AFC,” concluded the Marcaida.
On the other hand, all is not lost for Davao, who will gain an AFC Cup berth if 2018 Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club enter the 2019 AFC Champions League group stages.
Kaya XI: Villanueva (GK), Omura, Tacusalme, Soriano, Bedic, Tanton, Osei, Lopez-Mendy, Angeles, Tacagni, Felongco.
Davao XI: Deyto (GK), Hartmann, McDonald, De Jong, Younghusband J., Younghusband P., Hall, Tull, Kim, Casambre, Dos Santos.