A RETOOLED Kaya FC side banked on an early lead before holding off a weary Pachanga-Diliman in the endgame to hack out a 2-1 victory and jumpstart its United Football League campaign on Tuesday night at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Now without a handful of players especially top goalkeeper Saba Garmaroudi, Kaya leaned on its new Australian recruits as well as its Azkals standouts to prove that it remains a force to be reckoned with in the league.
The win translated to three points as Kaya, which was coming off a shock exit in the UFL Cup at the hands of Cinderella team Philippine Air Force at the Final 16 stage.
“You’re never going to win the season by winning the first game, but it can definitely cost you a championship,” Kaya coach David Perkovic said. “Considering that we have a few new faces, it was important we got the three points.”
Chris Greatwich unlocked the Pachanga defense in the 26th minute when the national team midfielder scored on the counterattack from the left side, before Australian recruit Tommy Taylor doubled the lead 13 minutes later with a close-range strike off the rebound.
Azkals striker OJ Porteria could’ve tripled the cushion, but his attempt midway through the second half hit the right goalpost.
Kaya had protected the lead in the second half, until Ariel Zerrudo found the back of the net following a free-kick conversion in stoppage time
“I knew today’s performance wasn’t going to be pretty at all because of the short preparation. But having said that, we showed some grit and determination,” Perkovic said. “Unfortunately if it wasn’t for the post and some good goalkeeper work, I think we could’ve gotten more from the game than what the end scoreline says.”
Pachanga failed to build on its opening-day win over Socceroo last Saturday.
“Coming into this game, we really had no idea how Kaya plays because they have a new team,” Pachanga coach Noel Marcaida said. “But we were able to adjust in the second half.”