United Football League (UFL) Division I mainstays Pachanga Diliman FC smothered fellow top flight side Team Socceroo FC in the second half to win, 4-1, to secure a slot in the knockout stages of the 2015 UFL Cup season, Sunday, May 17 at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
It was a grind out in first few minutes of the match while both teams searched for the opening goal. Pachanga Diliman gained control of most possessions and had more decent looks on scoring. At the seventh minute, Jayson Cutamora attempted a shot only for his chance to be blocked. In the following play, Hossein Doustdarsefidmazgi smartly tapped the ball to the charging Socceroo goalkeeper Marco Poli, which went out for a throw in. Moments after, Doustdarsefidmazgi found Reuben Silitonga, who was again denied of a chance for goal. On the other hand, Team Socceroo settled on Pachanga’s half of the pitch and tried to score via a counterattack. A scuffle inside the box saw Beleu-Emi Cleopas tap the ball three minutes after Silitonga’s attempt, but was easily collected by opposing keeper Steve Yambou. Home side captain Hamed Hajimehdi tried to volley from the edge of the penalty area; nonetheless, the ball went wide and over.
Team Socceroo finally got to break the resistance in the vicinity of the 27th minute. Pachanga Diliman’s Yambou tipped another shot by Cleopas, that hit the goalpost and out for a corner. In the resulting corner kick, Mandie Lunag half-volleyed the cross pass Yambou, and the visitors took the go-ahead goal. The group’s second seeds continued to attack but the leading team kept on denying them. Into injury time, Poli gathered a long distance shot from Anto Gonzales. The following play witnessed Pachanga almost equalizing with a missed Doustdarsefidmazgi header that Santos was too late to follow up on. The half ended with Team Socceroo on top, 1-0.
Pachanga Diliman played a more aggressive second half. At the 50th minute, substitute Andoni Santos tried to put the ball into the box but was blocked by the defense. Two minutes after, Doustdarsefidmazgi received a pass on the right flank and slid it onto the bottom corner as they finally equalize. At the 70th minute, Pachanga Diliman took advantage of a Cleopas miss that led to another run on the right wing. This time it was Step Permanes who scored for the home side by connecting on a half volley to grab the lead, 2-1.
The floodgates opened after that as Team Socceroo’s defense crumbled. Just four minutes after that go-ahead goal, Doustdarsefidmazgi converted on a free kick from Hajimehdi for his second and his team’s third. In the following play, Hajimehdi caught Poli off his line and fired a lob shot from yards out and into the goal, and his team grabbed the lead for good, 4-1. The away team tried to get a goal back, but the home side’s defense held strong. Missed shots ensued but the final whistle was blown, and Pachanga Diliman FC enter the quarterfinals with this comeback win.
Coach Francis Liza of Pachanga Diliman credited his wards on this win, emphasizing the hard work of his midfielders Doustdarsefidmazgi, Davide Cortine, and Gonzales in the second half. When asked about their first conceded goal of the tournament, he said, “In the first half, we lost our marking on set pieces [for the opponent].” “[However, in the second half,] the midfield, like Doustdarsefidmazgi and Cortine, adjusted and they delivered passes that created goals. Anto [Gonzales] provided balance and organized the back.” In their next game against Kaya FC, the young coach shared that they will have to continue on with their strategy and maximize their strengths in order to get a result against the Division I powerhouse.
The battle for the group top spot of Pachanga Diliman FC versus Kaya FC will happen on Sunday, May 24, while Team Socceroo and Agila MSA caps Group B action in the following game that day.