Kaya FC-Iloilo kicked off its title defense in the Copa Paulino Alcantara with a hard-earned 1-0 triumph against Maharlika Manila, Monday evening at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.
Daizo Horikoshi scored a minute into the second half to put Kaya ahead.
The defending champions dominated the possession but could not find a breakthrough in the first half in the face of Maharlika's dogged defending.
But they found the back of the net in the second half, after Daizo pounced on an empty goal. Maharlika 'keeper Henri Bandeken Fong stepped off his line to deny Kaya's Robert Lopez Mendy, leaving the goal vulnerable.
A Maharlika defender briefly gained control but Daizo was quick to snag the ball and coolly converted to put Kaya ahead, 1-0.
Kaya continued to press in search of a second goal, but could not find the finishing touches inside the box to pad their lead. They had a total of 28 shots on goal for the night and limited Maharlika to very few chances on the other end.
Kaya FC will play again on March 28, when they take on archrivals United City FC. Maharlika will look to bounce back on March 21 against Mendiola FC.