Two Philippine football squads taking part in the group stages of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup on Tuesday scored contrasting performances in a virtual Manila-Singapore showdown.
At the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Malate district, Cup debutante Kaya FC won, 1-0, against Balestier Khalsa FC.
Antonio Ugarte sent to the back of the net the winning goal just four minutes into the second half.
The victory came off another success at home in the same stadium at the expense of New Radiant of Mal¬dives, also 1-0, on Tuesday last week.
It raised the Filipino booters’ tally to six points for the top spot in the group, with Balestier remaining at second place at four points after absorbing its first loss in the AFC Cup, a Tier 2 club tournament featuring Asia’s best.
“We wanted to make noise and now we made noise [in our group]. So now its about seeing how far we can take this and getting the belief into the squad that were not just here to compete. We’re here to actually win games and get through the group,” said Kaya team manager Paul Tolentino.
Kaya FC had many chances to run away with the game in the first half, as well as the last 45 minutes of play, but was foiled by the superb heroics of the Singaporean goalkeepers, Zulkiffli Hasim and Zaiful Nizam Abdullah.
Starring for the home side were team captain Aly Borromeo, Jovan Bedic, Alfred Osei, Kenshiro Daniels, OJ Porteria and Junior Munoz.
Kaya nearly made it 2-0 with 20 minutes to go on an apparent Zaiful miscue.
At the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore, Adrian Gallardo—the Ceres-La Salle FC hero in the home game also at the Rizal Memorial Stadium last week—scored the equalizer with two minutes remaining in the match against Tamperines Rovers, another Singaporean squad.
The 1-1 deadlock followed up the Philippine team’s draw (2-2) the other week against Selangor FC of Malaysia at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City and the 2-0 away win against Bangladesh last week.
WITH REPORT FROM JAELLE NEVIN REYES