DYNAMIC Herb Cebu FC once again proved that it could compete with the country’s best clubs after giving tournament favorite Kaya FC-Iloilo its toughest match in the Philippines Football League (PFL) Copa Paulino Alcantara 2021.
Cebu FC, however, conceded a late goal in the second half and lost to Kaya FC, 1-0, in the semifinals last Nov. 16, 2021 at the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.
Kaya FC striker Jovin Bedic converted a penalty kick in the 86th minute of the match. The opportunity came after one of the Cebu FC players was called for a handball inside the box.
“We could have won the game. We had a clear chance with a header to start the second half. We played solid defense, we knew where their attack would start, and which players were always there in their attack. We actually contained Daizo (Horikoshi). He was the one who was going to create their attack,” Cebu FC head coach Oliver Colina told SunStar Cebu.
“If the match reached extension, we could have won it because their players were frustrated and tired. My players were still okay.”
Cebu FC, which was formed only this year, displayed solid defense against a top tier club in Kaya FC. Kaya FC was only held to just a single shot attempt in the first half, which is uncharacteristic of the second best club in the country.
“We played more on the defending side last night, that’s the plan to make a counterattack. We know that their holding midfield is the one who will initiate their attack. But luckily, they were able to get attempts from their crosses,” said Colina.
Cebu FC had its best chance of scoring at the start of the second half. Argentinian midfielder Ricardo Sendra headed in a corner kick by Nicolas Ferrer but his shot was deflected by Kaya FC goalkeeper Louie Casas.
“We also had chances. What we lacked were possessions. But Kaya was also defending our transitions well,” said Colina.
In its first two pro matches, Cebu FC held its own against two veteran teams in Kaya FC and Stallion Laguna FC. Both matches were very close, and Cebu FC only conceded a total of two goals in both matches.
On the other hand, Azkals Development Team (ADT) also advanced to the finals after beating Stallion Laguna FC, 2-1, with a late goal by Yrick Gallantes.
Gallantes hit the back of the net with a header in the 116th minute of the second half of extra time to give ADT the win.
After a scoreless first half, center back Abraham Placito gave Stallion FC the lead with a header from a corner kick in the 53rd minute.
ADT captain Jarvey Gayoso, the tournament’s leading scorer, scored the equalizer with a header in the 67th minute from a cross pass by Dennis Chung.
ADT faces Kaya FC in the Copa Paulino Alcantara finals on Nov. 19, 2021 at 8:15 p.m., while Cebu FC takes on Stallion FC in a battle-for-third match at 4 p.m.