Title contenders Kaya FC-Iloilo started their 2020 Philippines Football League (PFL) brought to you by Qatar Airways campaign on a positive note as they beat newcomers Maharlika Manila FC 1-0 at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite last October 28, 2020.
The seemingly close scoreline flattered Maharlika as last season’s runners-up outplayed them throughout the match but only had a solitary goal to show for it with Jason Panhay hitting the back of the net in the 30th minute.
Key players from the capital club was missing for their league debut with Joaquin Canas, Misagh Bahadoran and Sung-min Kim not in the lineup for head coach Roxy Dorlas. Furthermore, they lost veteran midfielder Serge Kaole at the 12th minute due to a serious injury.
Kaya went on to dominate the match as they looked forward to give Maharlika a rude welcome to the PFL. New midfield additions in Dylan de Bruycker and OJ Clarino wreaked havoc and helped in setting the offensive for the Ilonggos, helped by Daizo Horikoshi and veteran Panhay. Their first major chance came at the 12th minute as Maharlika goalkeeper Henri Bandeken Fong saved Horikoshi’s shot from the right side.
It set a precedent on what will be the scene for most of the match as Kaya kept on pushing and Maharlika more content on defending deep and hit on the counter-attack. The persistence paid off for Kaya in the 30th minute as Horikoshi sent a searching low cross through the Maharlika penalty area with forward Kenshiro Daniels and de Bruycker playing the dummy and left it to Panhay who lashed out a first-time shot with his right foot to send the ball to the top right corner and bag the match’s only goal.
Maharlika didn’t go down without a fight and even created chances of their own, most notably a couple of attempts initiated by their homegrown player MJ Libre. The short yet pacey winger from Tondo created the newcomers’ first clear chance on goal in the 22nd minute as his searching cross from the right side was mishandled by the Kaya defense and fell to his teammate Charlie Beaton who struck it but was denied by Kaya defender Carlyle Mitchell. Four minutes later, Libre went on to strike a powerful attempt outside the box which deflected off Kaya defender Simone Rota and just went a few inches over the Kaya goal manned by Louie Casas.
The same story continued in the second half as Kaya looked to score a second to seal their win, with head coach Yu Hoshide subbing in Jovin Bedic, Eric Giganto and Arnel Amita to bolster their attack. However, a determined Maharlika side kept their defensive composure in crucial moments to keep the scoreline despite the men in yellow continuously pushing on. Kaya’s best chance of the second half came in the 92nd minute as a goalmouth scramble almost produced a goal but Beaton and Bandeken Fong teamed up miraculously keep the ball off the line, much to the frustration of their opponents.
Both clubs will be back in action on October 31 (Saturday), with Stallion Laguna the next side to test Maharlika while Kaya takes on the youthful Azkals Development Team.
Kaya XI (4-1-4-1): Louie Casas (GK); Marco Casambre, Simone Rota, Carlyle Mitchell, Shirmar Felongco; Marwin Angeles (captain); Jason Panhay, Dylan de Bruycker, Daizo Horikoshi, OJ Clarino; Kenshiro Daniels.
Maharlika XI (4-3-3): Henri Bandeken Fong (GK); Jerry Barbaso (captain), David Basa, Anton del Rosario, Mateo Yuhico; Jose Montelibano, Serge Kaole, David Fornea; Charlie Beaton, Yannick Tuason, MJ Libre.
Photo Credits: Philippines Football League