MANILA -- Kaya FC Iloilo finally captured the title that has eluded them the past six years.
In a fitting end to a remarkable season, Kaya trounced Stallion Laguna FC, 3-1, last Saturday for its first Philippines Football League crown at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Goals from Tamon Horikoshi, Jhan Melliza, and Jarvey Gayoso pushed Kaya’s total to 55 points on 18 wins, one draw, and three losses, edging Dynamic Herb Cebu, which blew its title hopes when it was held to a goalless draw by Stallion last Tuesday.
“I’m so happy with the championship,” said Kaya’s Japanese coach Yu Hoshide, who has made the country his home in the last decade. “I really appreciated the support from everyone, the fans, supporters we hope they enjoyed this title celebration like we did.”
In a touching moment, Kaya’s players and general manager Paul Tolentino handed the PFL trophy to one of the club’s founders, Chris Hagedorn, at the height of the title celebration.
This was a testament to the club’s longevity, stability and ability to build a squad from the ground up. Most of Kaya’s homegrown players have been with the club for more than five years.
Ceres won the first two editions of the PFL, before United City FC took the next two. It’s Kaya’s turn to come out on top in a season where UCFC withdrew just after the year started.
Horikoshi broke the deadlock in the 35th minute of the match, but Abraham Placito equalized in the 58th minute with a powerful headaer past Zach Banzon.
Kaya regained the lead in 65th minute with Melliza’s breakaway finish, before the subtitute Gayoso fired the ball past Patrick Deyto five minutes from time.
With 15 goals to his name and another Man of the Match performance against Stallion, Daizo Horikoshi was named the league’s top scorer and Golden Ball awardee while Banzon was adjudged as the Golden Glove awardee as the league’s best goalkeeper.