Kaya Iloilo FC came away with a 1-0 win over newcomer Maharlika-Manila FC to cap first day of action Wednesday night in the 2020 Philippines Football League at the PFF national training center field in Carmona town, Cavite.
Veteran Jason Panhay flashed vintage form in pouncing on the sloppy defense of their foes, blasting from 15 feet from the right for the marginal goal in the 29th minute of the compact, single-round series.
But that was all of the AFC Cup qualifiers could muster as the league newcomers went on defensive mode virtually the rest of the way to prevent a rout.
Credit that to the heroics of Cameroonian keeper Henri Bandeken and the veteran back row of David Basa, Jerry Barbaso and Anton del Rosario, who played with a heavily bandaged left hand.
“We have to improve in the attacking third in our succeeding matches,” noted Kaya-Iloilo FC coach Yu Hoshide, who could not hide his frustration after dominating the match for the entire 90 minutes that produced just a single goal.
“We had some chances early but the fatigue came in so we had to go on the defensive and look for the counter,” said Maharlika-Manila FC coach Roxy Dorlas said. “This outcome is something we can definitely build on.
“But we have to respect Kaya, especially what they have achieved in the past.”
Dorlas praised the performance of Bandeken, “who we believe is one of the best goalies in the league right now. We are fortunate to have him.”
In fact, it was Bandeken who stood out in the final minutes of the rain-soaked match as he frustrated their rivals, throwing his body in added time during a goalmouth scramble as the Kaya-Iloilo FC players swarmed all over him as time expired.
The tournament takes a two-day break before resuming with a triple header on Saturday.
Stallion-Laguna FC makes their debut against Maharlika Manila FC at 9 a.m, followed by the game between Mendiola-1991 FC vs. United City FC at 4:30 p.m., and Kaya-Iloilo vs. the Azkals Development Team at 8 p.m.