Filipino football clubs Kaya FC and Ceres La Salle FC scored their first wins in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2016 against their respective opponents on Tuesday.
After suffering a 0-1 loss against Kitchee Sports Club (SC) of Hong Kong, Kaya FC bounced back with a 1-0 victory over New Radiant SC of Maldives in their first home match at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The 2015 United Football League (UFL) Cup champions launched an attack right at the start of the opening half with Porteria testing the resolve of goalkeeper Sulemana Abu.
New Radiant mounted assaults of their own against their hosts but Kaya FC’s Australian shot-stopper Matthew Acton blocked all their attempts.
The Maldivian club threatened the Kaya defense in the 77th minute with a header by Waheed Rilwan off a cross from teammate Hussain Lamaan Ahmed but failed.
A minute after, Kaya FC midfielder Anton Ugarte took his own header from a deep cross sent by Kenshiro Daniels but his shot sailed high off the crossbar.
As game entered its final minutes, Kaya’s relentless offense finally paid off as a pass by Junior Muñoz from the left flank found Porteria, who scored the game-winning strike in the last minute of added time.
“The good thing is, [the boys]never gave up. Sometimes the plan does not work out so best thing there is that all the players did not give up until the last minute,” Kaya coach Joel Villarino said.
Team skipper Ali Borromeo sees the victory as a morale booster going into their next game in the AFC Cup.
“In the end, we did deserve the win. We controlled the game. I don’t think that we were all satisfied that we scored in the last few minutes but I guess it’s a stepping stone for us to concentrate in our next game next week,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ceres La Salle FC beat LT. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club, 2-0, at the latter’s home turf in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the first match in their two-game overseas trip.
The Bacolod-based team’s Stephan Schrock fired a long-distance jab in the early minutes of the game that went straight to the keeper.
A few minutes after, the Spanish duo of Bienvenido Maranon and Adrian Gallardo Valdes joined forces inside the box of their adversaries to score the opening goal for Ceres in the 25th minute.
Another goal was tallied for the Busmen just four minutes after as Schrock found the poorly marked Gallardo Valdes to complete his brace performance in the 29th minute of the contest and seal the win for his squad.
With the victories, Ceres now occupies the second spot of Group E with one win and a draw while Kaya is tied with Kitchee in the second and third spots of Group F with a win and a loss.
The two representatives of the Philippines in the continental club championship will continue their campaigns next Tuesday against experienced Singaporean clubs.
Kaya will be facing Balestier Khalsa FC for another home game at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium while Ceres is scheduled to clash with Tampines Rovers FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.