PACHANGA-Diliman FC took advantage of an early penalty then leaned on a bit of luck down the stretch to nip Kaya FC, 1-0, and jumpstart its United Football League Division 1 campaign at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.
Promoted to the top flight after conquering Division 2 last year, Pachanga turned to Guamanian national team skipper Jason Cunliffe, who converted a penalty kick that was awarded when Kaya’s Dario Dakic committed a foul on Mariano in the 27th minute.
The winners now have share of the early lead with league heavyweights Stallion-Sta. Lucia, Global, and Loyola Meralco.
“It was pretty much a tactical battle,” newcomer Anto Gonzales said. “We had a long preparation (for the season). So I think it paid off in this first game.”
“They were really putting the pressure on us in the last 10 minutes but we were able to hold on to that one-goal advantage,” the national pool member and current coach of the University of the Philippines varsity team added.
Shifting to a more offensive approach, Kaya tried to make a comeback late in the game and was nearly rewarded when they had their best chance in the final minute of regulation from close range.
The team’s potential equalizer, however, failed to find the mark as it went straight to the face of Pachanga defender Allen Serna, who clutched his face in pain after the game.
“Oo, ang lakas, pare, sobra,” Serna said. “Kung ire-rate ko from one to ten kung gaano kalakas, ten.”
“That was really goal-bound,” Gonzales admitted of Kaya’s last-gasp attempt. “We were lucky to have a man there and he was brave enough na hindi umiwas.”