OJ Porteria was the hero as he scored the lone goal in the 90+4 minute of stoppage time against New Radiant Sports Club to give Kaya Football Club their first ever win in the Asian Football Confederation Cup at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
It was also Kaya’s first win in any AFC club football tournament, and the result gave them three valuable points in their 2016 AFC Cup campaign after they had lost their first match against Kitchee of Hong Kong. The win was also the icing on the cake for Kaya as the club celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The first half of the match very much showed what Kaya and New Radiant wanted to do – cancel each other out. With both teams having dropped points in their last fixture, a loss tonight would have meant a major blow to their hopes of advancing to the next round. Chances were few and far in between, as the two teams were hesitant to throw caution to the winds.
Save for a mini-scuffle between Kaya defender Shirmar Felongco and New Radiant striker Ahmed Suhail, the first few minutes of the match were bereft of action. The match started to open up afterwards when New Radiant forward Ahmed Nuhaadh had a shot towards the Kaya goal, but Matthew Acton was on hand to easily catch it. Acton was called to action multiple times later in the half, but New Radiant failed to conjure a serious attempt on his goal.
As a team, Kaya look designed to be reactive, and so they struggled to put on a more proative performance. Their last match against Kitchee demonstrated their initiative to sit back and go on the counter. This time, though, they were the ones who needed to take initiative in possession. They finally had an attempt on goal midway through the first half when Porteria sensed an opportunity, but his shot went over the New Radiant goal.
Porteria also looked to create chances for his teammates. His ball set Kenshiro Daniels through on goal but New Radiant goalkeeper Suleman Abu rushed out quickly to clear the danger. Aside from Porteria, the other Kaya player who looked like he could create a chance was midfielder Miguel Tanton. Tanton unlocked a hole in the New Radiant backline, but Jim Munoz wasn’t able to take advantage as he was under pressure from an opposition defender.
Tanton himself had a shot on goal but it failed to test Abu. It fittingly ended scoreless at the half as both teams lacked the cutting edge to open the floodgates.
Come the second half, Kaya performed more aggressively on the pitch. Jim Muñoz set the tone just three minutes into the second half with his attempt but his shot went over. Kaya had most of the possession but, again, had a hard time breaking down the New Radiant defense. New Radiant themselves could have stolen all three points when Waheed Rilwan directed his header to the ground but it bounced out over the goal.
That Rilwan chance ended up as a wake-up call for Kaya. Anton Ugarte missed a golden chance for Kaya when he headed the ball over the New Radiant bar. Dominic Del Rosario added to the Kaya bombardment but his shot was easily caught by Abu. By then, New Radiant had just been trying to hold on for the point. However, their stubbornness ended in spectacular fashion.
At the last minute of stoppage time, Kaya had the ball on the right flank as they pushed on for a winner. Muñoz delivered a ground cross which was then slotted home by Porteria in the last second of the match. It sent the home crowd wild, as the match had looked like it would finish goalless. The final whistle blew seconds later and the Sons of Mighty Kaya led the celebrations at fulltime.
Kaya coach Joel Villarino was understandably pleased with the outcome. “The good thing is (the players) never gave up. Sometimes plans don’t work out so the best thing there is all the players do not give up until the last minute.” He added, “It’s really hard for (New Radiant) to attack because of their defense so the most important thing is that (the players) never give up.”
Group F now looks a lot rosier for Kaya as they are tied with Kitchee in second place with 3 points. Their next game is against Group F leaders Balestier Khalsa FC, who lead the group with 4 points. The fixture will be a home game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on March 15, 2016 (Tuesday). Kick off time is 7:30PM.