A WEARY and shorthanded Philippine Air Force side stunned Kaya, 1-0, on Tuesday night to barge into the quarterfinals of the UFL Cup at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Without five suspended starters, the Airmen, who since Thursday have been packing relief goods flown from Villamor Airbase to Tacloban for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda, leaned on the all-important goal from Jimmy Vergara in extra time to advance to the Round of 8.
“Sabi ko sa kanila i-dedicate natin to sa mga kasama nating sundalo sa Air Force na nagpupuyat para sa kababayan natin sa Tacloban whether we win or lose,” Airmen coach Edzel Bracamonte said.
The former Cup champions now await the winner of the Round-of-16 match between Green Archers United, led by former Airman Chieffy Caligdong, and Manila Jeepney.
Recently relegated to Division 2 following their woeful last-place finish in the last League, the all-Filipino Airmen flashed the old form that has made them the most successful team in the UFL as they eliminated Kaya, a perennial contender which wound up fourth in the last League.
After holding Kaya scoreless in regulation, Air Force was finally rewarded in the 104th minute when the 26-year-old Vergara found the back of the net by flicking the ball off a Joebel Bermejo free kick.
“Mag-defend lang tayo ng mag-defend hangga’t mabigyan tayo ng chance na umatake at umiskor. Nangyari naman,” Bracamonte said. “Thankful ako sa mga players na nasunod nila yung game plan.”
Pressed to equalize, Kaya conjured numerous chances but failed to unlock the defense of goalkeeper Ken Dolloso.
“It’s Cup football. That’s the reality of it. Stuff happens in Cup football. You pop in a goal and the other team buys one,” said Kaya general manager Paul Tolentino, who spoke in lieu of coach David Perkovic, who was in Australia for a professional matter.