Stallion FC led twice against Kaya FC in last night’s United Football League (UFL) Cup semi-final tie but ultimately fell short to the latter via an excruciating penalty shootout defeat at the iconic Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Speaking after the eventful encounter, Stallion Head Coach Ernie Nierras only spoke fondly of his wards.
Nierras described the occasion as the “best game they ever played against Kaya” which is a team that they managed to beat twice in the league this season. They were leading 2-0 in the second half but were pegged back by the unwavering Kaya squad. They also claimed a brief lead in extra time that was cancelled by Kaya’s Diego Barrera to send the game to penalties. “They left everything on the field. Doesn’t matter what happened. I told them I’m proud of them,” the mentor said.
Stallion had a missed penalty and two vital players Kaole and Simone Rota out of the playing field due to poor discipline and a devastating injury respectively. Their absence, however, is not an excuse for Nierras thought everyone who suited up for Stallion was amazing. “They kept coming. We were man down for 30 minutes plus but we kept going. These guys kept it together. They kept fighting. Somebody had to lose tonight,” he furthered, even suggesting that facing Kaya happened a game earlier than what they would have preferred.
More than losing to Kaya in a penalty shootout, Nierras is more bothered by Rota’s injury. One of the best players in the country, Rota suffered multiple injuries to the rib and lung areas. This might sideline him for a long time, something Nierras is fearing. “I hope they won’t drop him,” he voiced with concern. The defender now appears to be sidelined for the upcoming September international games. Faced with a very difficult scenario, Stallion will miss a number of their key players in the consolation third place match against Loyola on Friday, when both teams will look to end their season positively. — LGT
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