By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Kaya FC-Iloilo passed one of its toughest tests of the season after nipping the Davao Aguilas-UMAK, 4-3, to successfully defend its Copa Paulino Alcantara Cup last December 9, 2023, held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Kaya FC won the championship game against Davao via a penalty shootout after the match ended with a 1-1 deadlock in extra time.
It was a rough start for the defending Copa Paulino kings as Davao was able to clinch the early momentum of the game when they drew first blood courtesy of a Yannick Tuason conversion.
Tuason shocked the Kaya FC backline after going from a calm ball dribble to a blitz attack which led to a sweet header that kissed Iloilo’s net.
Seeking to get back into the game, Kaya FC was quick to deploy its defensive adjustments and doubled their effort in containing Davao’s flank attacks.
Stepping up for Iloilo was Arnel Amita who gave them the equalizing goal in the second half of the grueling grand final match.
It was an off-a-steal conversion from the veteran striker after Amita intercepted the ball from the attacking Din Ouattara.
After Tuason and Amita’s goals, both teams figured in a defensive chess match and failed to add another score which paved the way for the penalty shootout.
Jovin Bedic, Daizo Horikoshi, and Audi Menzi delivered for Kaya FC in the penalty round but it was Justin Baas who scored the championship-sealing goal.
With Kaya FC only needing one more point to close 2023 with a back-to-back Copa Paulino outing, Baas fired his kick with power to help Iloilo raise the championship trophy once again.
Quincy Kammeraad, Kaya FC’s goalkeeper, also went big in the crucial moments of the penalty shootout after saving two goals for Iloilo.