United City celebrate during their title presentation Monday night. PFL Facebook
Kaya-Iloilo, seen here reacting during a previous match against Stallion-Laguna, beat United City in their last match on Monday. PFL Facebook
Kaya-Iloilo prevented a United City sweep of the Philippines Foootball League with a 2-1 victory on Monday night at the PFF national training center pitch in Carmona, Cavite Monday night.
Aggressors from the get-go, the Kaya-Iloilo booters banked on first-half goals by Kenshiro Daniels in the 15th minute and Carlyle Mitchell’s soaring header in the 38th to wind up their stint in the tournament presented by Qatar Airways.
Midfielder Manny Ott came off the bench in the second half in salvaging UCFC’s lone goal in the 83rd to conclude the shortened competition sanctioned by the Philippine Football Federation and supported by the Games and Amusements Board.
Their third victory against two draws allowed the wards of Japanese coach Yu Yoshide to reclaim second spot in the 6-team field with 11 points and the consolation that they inflicted the lone stain on their erstwhile unbeaten rivals, who had copped the title last week.
In other results Monday, the Azkals Development Team beat Stallion-Laguna 2-0, and Mendiola downed Maharlika Manila by the same score.
United City clinched the championship last Friday by routing Stallion-Laguna FC 7-1 in carrying on the winning legacy of Bacolod-based Ceres-Negros FC.
Businessman and sportsman Leo Rey Yanson early this year relinquished team ownership and management to a consortium of foreign investors led by Erick Gottschalk, who flew over from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates to witness the club’s final match.
Gottschalk was present to receive the championship trophy from PFF president Mariano Araneta Jr.
UNITED HAULS INDIVIDUAL AWARDS
UCFC retained the core of the old club bannered by Azkals skipper Stephan Schrock, who was the recipient of the Golden Boot Award as the best player of the tournament.
The club’s prolific Spanish forward Bienvenido Maranon, who was expecting a baby back home, also received the Golden Boot as the league’s top striker while teammate and former national under-22 goalkeeper Anthony Pinthus took Golden Glove honors.
On top of winning the championship, UCFC also secured a ticket to the Asian Football Confederation Champions League, the continent’s premier club tournament.
Apparently still experiencing the hangover from last week’s triumph, UCFC seemed a step slower at the start against the relentless yet organized pace of its rival.
The players of coach Francis Muescan paid dearly for their lackadaisical beginning as Daniels stepped into Eric Giganto’s cross from the right wing to slot in the opening goal inside the box in the 15th minute past UCFC goalkeeper Florencio Baedelic Jr.
Mitchell, who played for the Trinidad and Tobago national team, then rose to the occasion with that header from Daniels’ right corner kick for the second marker 23 minutes later in staking the squad to a 2-0 halftime lead.
UCFC tried to penetrate the Kaya-Iloilo defense, which held the line until Ott finally found a sliver of space to knock in the team’s lone marker 7 minutes left in regulation.
AZKALS YOUTH KEEP GETTING BETTER
Meanwhile, the Azkals Development Team settled down in the second half against determined Stallion-Laguna for its third straight win Monday, capping its stint with a 3-2 record.
Enterprising midfielder Yrick Gallantes slipped past the SLFC defense on the left flank in the 52nd minute for the icebreaker, then skipper Jarvey Gayoso converted a penalty 10 minutes later as the ADT went out in style.
The charges of coach Ernest Nierras had a chance to score the go-ahead goal in the 7th minute, but midfielder Troy Limbo gamely cleared the ball at an unguarded net with keeper Anton Yared out of position.
Stallion-Laguna played with great discipline, resolve and composure and had their rivals on their toes virtually throughout the match but just could not translate that into a goal.
Stallion-Laguna and Mendiola play on Thursday to close out the campaign.
“Our players just keep on getting better and better and it was a professional job by inexperienced and non-professional players,” ADT and national coach Scott Cooper said. “We keep three clean sheets in a row and that is difficult as well.”
“It just makes you wonder (what would happen) how this team would perform if they were given six to seven more months. You have to be proud of them, but let’s not get carried away because they still have a long way to go,” he said.
In the second match, Mendiola finally flashed vintage form against Maharlika Manila.
Defender Aaron Nebreja headed in Aaron Altiche’s volley on the follow-up in the 26th minute while skipper Ashley Flores capped the victory in the 90th for the club’s initial victory after four games.
League newcomer Maharlika Manila FC exited with a 1-4 record.