Despite the absence of striker Jarvey Gayoso due to accumulated yellow cards, Kaya brought Philippine football back to where it belongs as the Iloilo-based squad edged comebacking football power Davao Aguilas, 1-1 (4-3), in the most grueling fashion in the final of the 2023 Copa Paulino Alcantara on Saturday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
It took a retake of Justin Baas’ penalty for Kaya to secure the crown as the Azkals midfielder ensured his penalty kick to the mid-left part of the goal to take away the trophy from the Aguilas.
Earlier, Davao goalkeeper Dini Ouattara managed to save Baas’ pen but the referees called for a retake as the gritty Ivorian was ahead of the goal line.
Ouattara gave Davao the early advantage in the shootout, saving Robert Lopez Mendy’s pen only to concede four straight kicks from the Ilonggos.
It was Kaya’s Quincy Kammeraad who made the crucial stops, saving Davao’s second and third pen from goal scorer Yannick Tuason and Serge Kaole, respectively.
Just like the shootout, Davao took the first advantage in the game, with Tuason scoring a late first half goal off a splendid header from a long free kick by Paolo Bugas in the 45+3” mark.
Unfazed, Kaya clamped down on defense and earned an equalizer in the 65th minute as Nano Amita sneaked in from behind to steal the ball from a leisurely Ouattara possession to strike goal.
Davao had a chance to regain the lead but a power strike from top left by Nick Ferrer was a little wide right.
Kaya’s hometown hero Jovin Bedic tried to re-enact his 2018 Copa heroics, hitting a header off a sizzling left cross by Daizo Horikoshi only to hit the crossbar as Davao defender Axel Andres cleared the possession to send the game to the shootout.
With the win, Kaya has achieved a season treble, earlier winning the 2022-23 PFL Championship last summer with 55 tournament points as against Dynamic Herb-Cebu’s 51, and the 2023 PFF Women’s League over Manila Digger last month in a 1-0 final.
Kaya has also won its third Copa trophy, edging regional rival and two-time champion Ceres/United City.
Horikoshi was named tournament Most Valuable Player while teammates Kammeraad, Abou Sy, and Simone Rota won the Golden Glove, Golden Boot, and Best Defender plums, respectively.
Davao star Paolo Bugas earned a consolation for his team with the Golden Ball.
The Copa Paulino Alcantara is the Philippines’ biggest open football tournament named after the country’s first international superstar born and raised in Iloilo in 1899.
Earlier, also at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Kaya FC-Iloilo was also crowned as the Philippine Football Federation Under 19 Second Division National Champions after besting Palawan FA, 7-0 in the final match.
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