Despite their slow start, Kaya FC bounced back and defeated Manila Jeepney FC, 4-1 in the United Football League (UFL) Division 1 tournament early Wednesday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Manila Jeepney took advantage of an uncharacteristically sluggish Kaya in the opening minutes of the game. In just six minutes from the start, Manila Jeepney was able to record the game’s first goal coming from a counter-attack. The Los Manileños Forward, Koffi Kouassi, connected with nearby teammate Nicholas Ferrer Jr. inside the box, who easily directed the ball behind Kaya custodian, Nick O’Donnell.
The initial goal revitalized both teams and led to a back-and-forth sequence that resulted in fouls and offside calls. Manila Jeepney almost doubled their lead at the 16th minute, which was once again manufactured by Kouassi. The forward with the ball in the flanks, sent a cross to his team’s striker, Eric Giganto, who then passed the ball to a rushing Arnel Amita inside the box. The U23 Azkal immediately tapped the ball towards the net, but it went inches wide. Moreover, the Los Manileños continued their aggressive offense after the goal. Kaya, however, took advantage of Jeepney’s aggression and took one back. After stealing the ball from the blue-shirts’ attacking third, Kaya immediately sent the ball to midfielder Joshua Beloya. The Filipino-Swiss then sent the ball towards a rushing Tishan Hanley inside the box. The striker, with acres of space, rolled the ball into the back of the net to the dismay of Jeepney Goalie, Rey Joyel. Unsatisfied with the draw, the yellow-shirts promptly doubled their lead in the following minutes. Chris Greatwich directed the ball to his colleague Jovin Bedic inside the box. The Iloilo native calmly shipped the ball towards the back of the net.
Once more, a see-saw affair ensued between the teams with a number of shots from both ends of the pitch occuring. Offside calls and misdirected free-kicks prevented either team to score. Kaya almost added another one to their tally before the first half ended, but Diego Barrera’s shot only met the crossbar, which led to a corner kick that was headed over the bar. The first half ended in favor of Kaya 2-1.
The second half was no different from the first, as both squads tried to score while preventing the opposition to do the same. It was Kaya, however, who finally broke through and scored eight minutes after the restart. Greatwich chipped the ball high towards Christian Ayew inside the box, who headed the ball in. With the lead, Kaya used most of their allocated substitutions and slowed their pace down, allowing Manila Jeepney to have numerous chances at goal. Unfortunately for the Los Manileños, none of which would find the onion bag.
A masterfully executed counterattack gave the yellow-shirts their fourth goal. Barrera, losing Manila Jeepney’s Van Rey Diaz, made the most of the opportunity and chipped the ball over Joyel. With time running out, Jeepney tried to get a consolation goal the aggression, which led to the Philippine International Amita to be awarded a red card and the game to end giving Kaya a 4-1 win.
In an interview after the game Kaya Head Coach Fabien Lewis was delighted with how his boys played, despite being down a goal in the early moments of the game. “We were a goal down, a bit sluggish, we started very slow, but I commend the boys for their professionalism and making sure it didn’t happen again,” he explained. Wanting to finish behind league-leaders Ceres-La Salle FC, coach Lewis added that they’d go all out and try to get three points against the next teams that they will face.
Kaya FC and Manila Jeepney FC go against Stallion FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks FC respectively on July 26.