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Menzi on Cloud 9 as his first-ever Kaya goal leads team to history


When Audie Menzi rose to head the ball at the 17th minute against Shanghai Port in the play-off round of the 2021 AFC Champions League, little did he know that his goal cemented his plays in the annals of Philippine football history. 

The La Trinidad, Benguet native’s strike secured the Philippines’ oldest existing football team, Kaya-Iloilo, a place in the group stage of the continent’s biggest club competition. It slots into Group F alongside holders Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea as well as current Thai League 1 and V.League 1 champions BG Pathum United and Viettel.

“First, napakasaya kasi ‘yung goal ko is ‘yung ‘yan ‘yung dahilan kung bakit kami nakagawa ng history for Kaya FC. Ang isa pa is ‘yan ‘yung pinakauna kong goal sa club kahit nandito ako for almost five years na, and ‘yun ‘yung pinakauna kong goal,” said the 26-year-old.

“Masarap lang kasi dito pa talaga na i-stage na nasa big stage na, dun pa ako naka-goal.”

Menzi’s goal was a long time coming for Kaya.

The club has faced near misses in its conquests in the United Football League and Philippines Football league. There have been many heartbreaks for the fans who have followed them for so long.

Not June 23, 2021 though as it will forever be etched in their hearts.

“Nung naka-goal ako, naisip ko lang mag-celebrate.

“Wala na akong ibang inisip. Wala na akong ibang inisip kundi thank you lang, tapos ‘yun na lang. Inisip ko agad, kailangan mag depensa, ‘yun na lang. I-maintain na lang ‘yung score,” said the Far Eastern University product.

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It will be Kaya’s first foray into the AFC Champions League.

In a sense, there is no pressure on the players and coaches’ shoulders since qualifying for the said tournament is already an achievement. However, Menzi and his comrades will be playing to win rather than just remain content to have a seat at the big table.

“Last Wednesday, mataas din ang level ng Shanghai and mas mataas ulit ang mga kalaro (sa Group F) since ka-bracket natin ‘yung last champion ng Champions League, which is the Korean team. And malalakas din na team ‘yung Thailand and ‘yung Vietnam. Siguradong masyadong bakbakan na laro ito,” said the 5-foot-8 defender.

Perhaps the unfortunate thing about Kaya’s victory was that it was not broadcasted to the public because of complications of its broadcasting rights.

Nevertheless, Menzi’s goal and the resulting outcome reverberated throughout the Philippine sports world. Now, there are six more matches to relish against Asia’s top sides.

“Sa mga walang sawang sumusuporta sa mga fans namin, maraming salamat. And sa mga kababayan ko sa Baguio or Benguet, ito lang message ko, naka-Goal ti Igorot. ‘Yun lang.”

Written By

Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces


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