After clinching two consecutive wins in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2016, Filipino-American midfielder Antonio Ugarte believes that Kaya FC is in good position of earning a spot in the next round of the tournament.
“ I think it [the win]puts us in a pretty good place for the remaining games. I think we proved that we could play against a lot of teams in this competition. Nothing is finished yet but it sets us up for the rest of the tournament,” said Ugarte, who scored the game-winning goal for Kaya in their match against Singapore’s Balestier Khalsa FC.
“It sets us up very well to advance out of the group. I don’t want to say that we’re through already. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done but I think we have a very good chance,” he added.
The goal of the 26-year-old Kaya FC standout propelled the Filipino club to their second straight win in front of home crowd at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
Ugarte capitalized on a deflected chance from teammate Jovin Bedic in the 48th minute to seal the prized three points.
“ I was fairly lucky when the ball came to my feet. I think it came off a shot from Jovin Bedic before it fell to me. I took a decent touch. I did not try to hit it too hard and just placed it in a corner. Luckily, it worked out,” he said.
The Filipino-American booter also had several attempts on the goal following his opening strike but was unable to find the back of the net.
“I had a couple of other chances that was sort of unlucky. The keeper made a pretty good save on the header that I had. It would have been nice to get a couple of goals but at least we won,” he said.
Ugarte said their feat against tested high-caliber Asian international clubs is a testament of the capability of their squad.
“We have decent teams but I think we are just as good as anybody else. I think we can play every team in our group and get good results in the future,” stressed Ugarte.
Kaya FC, a first-timer in the continental club football tournament for developing nations, is now on top of Group F with six points on two wins and a loss.
They lost to Hong Kong’s Kitchee Sports Club (SC), 0-1, in their first outing at the Mong Kok Stadium before scoring victories in their next two games.
The team started their home stand with a dramatic late-game success versus New Radiant, 1-0, before defeating Balestier Khalsa on Tuesday.
Kaya resumes its campaign with another bout with Balestier but this time at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore on April 12.