Kaya F.C.-Iloilo and Davao Aguilas-UMak have resurrected their 2018 rivalry, vanquishing their opponents in the two-legged semifinals of the 2023 Copa Paulino Alcantara Friday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The two-time Copa champions and reigning PFL kings sent two-time third placers Stallion Laguna, repeating their first leg with 2-1 result for a 4-2 finish on aggregate.
In the other semis duel, the 2018 runner-up drew with Dynamic Herb Cebu, 1-1, but finished on top on aggregate, 2-1.
An unmarked Ricky Sendra absorbed the loose ball from Daizo Horikoshi’s left cross to Jarvey Gayoso for an early power goal in the 18th minute for Kaya’s 3-1 balloon on aggregate.
Young forward Zachary Ford, however, kept the lakeside squad’s hopes alive with a sizzling strike off the dribble against Azkal Mar Diano in the 28th minute.
Stallion ultimately shot themselves on the foot, however, as center back Abraham Placito headed in an own goal from a Horikoshi volley intended for Abou Sy to open second half action.
In the nightcap, national standout Paolo Bugas sank a Hail Mary from midfield in the 78th minute to secure the Aguilas’ return to the final, notwithstanding a last second goal from Ivan Ouano in the 90+11th minute mark.
With these results, Kaya and Davao rekindle the inaugural Copa final in 2018, won by the Ilonggos in extra time via a very late lone goal by hometown hero Jovin Bedic in the 119th minute.
The Aguilas, then led by legends Phil and James Younghusband, folded down by the end of that year and are raring for revenge after having reunited for the ongoing Copa.
Kaya, on the other hand, are raring for a season treble as its women’s side will face Manila Digger in the final of the 2023 PFF Women’s League on November 11.
On November 12, the Copa will close the tournament with the Battle for Third and Final, also in the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
* * *