A week before their historic 2016 AFC Cup Round of 16 matches, Kaya FC and Ceres-La Salle FC registered rousing wins against Forza FC and Agila MSA FC in the ongoing 2016 United Football League, Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
In the day’s first match, Kaya FC bucked a slow start and deficit to post their second win of the League, 10-2. The 2015 UFL Cup champions drew first blood; Robert Lopez-Mendy calmly converted the spot kick given due to a handball call on Javier Bonoan of Forza, at just the 2nd minute of the match.
Despite Kaya’s domination of possession, Forza drew level and even took the lead before the half-hour mark of the game. In the 25th minute, Lobe Mbang finished the corner kick with a header to tie game at 1-all. Four minutes later, Hayato Aoki scored his team’s second after he broke free from the defense and blasted the ball past Kaya goalie Isaac Annan.
Kaya then woke up and turned it around before halftime. A good passing sequence ensued in the 41st minute, then Louis Clark tapped the ball into the goal to level the match at 2. Kenshiro Daniels then put his side up at 3-2 as additional time was announced, with a well-placed header from a Clark lobbed cross.
The yellow-shirts stepped on the gas and bombarded Forza with 7 more goals in the following period. A 49th minute goal from Sean Kane, off a corner kick, set the tone for Kaya in the second frame.
With an overwhelming display of passing game, Kaya FC slowly opened the flood gates and never looked back. Lopez-Mendy put the icing on this emphatic win with a three-goal binge in 7 minutes, before Eric Ben Giganto put the final nail on the coffin with his first goal in Kaya uniform.
Fellow AFC knockouts–bound squad, Ceres-La Salle FC scored a similar win against Agila MSA FC, 10-1. However, unlike Kaya, the defending League champions were purely dominant from the get-go.
“I think we played better [than against Nomads FC],” Ceres Head Coach Ali Go commented.
After several build-up plays from the wings, Ceres finally broke the ice in the 15th minute when Bienvenido Marañon found Patrick Reichelt free on the edge of the box. The latter then sent the ball into the net for the opening goal.
Four goals from similar sequences followed as Nate Burkey and Marañon joined the scoring parade. Reichelt had a field day and registered a hat trick before even 30 minutes had elapsed, with his third coming from a rebound off a Marañon chance.
Ceres-La Salle put the game out of reach for good, 15 minutes after, with 2 more goals from Martin Steuble and Marañon. The halftime whistle was sounded with Ceres well-ahead at 7-0.
Agila MSA FC pulled one back in the 51st minute. Substitute Rupert Baña found Ceres keeper Louie Casas off his line and chipped the ball from yards out and into the goal. The white-shirts became more aggressive after this breakthrough goal; nonetheless, the reigning champs stamped their class on both ends.
With chances aplenty, it was only a matter of time before Ceres added on to the tally. Two straight goals just seconds apart came from Marañon’s solo effort in the 64th minute and a spectacular finish from Carli De Murga at the 66th minute.
Ceres then finished it off with another beautiful passing sequence inside the box for the 10th goal. Marañon collected a low cross before sending it to Jalsor Soriano for a clinical shot into the onion bag at the 86th minute.
Go, however, was not pleased with how the boys had played in the second half. “[In the] first half, they followed the game plan, which is to use the wings. Most of the goals came from the wings,” he noted. The Ceres mentor shared that the level of play went down in the second half. “The other players need to show that they belong to this team,” he remarked.
The multi-titled coach, however, welcomed this victory as a morale-booster to their AFC Cup campaign. Go ended, “We go to Bacolod [confident] and be ready for South China.”