TALISAY CITY – Kaya FC Iloilo refused to be daunted by Dynamic Herb Cebu’s valiant effort and its energetic home crowd as the league leaders came away with a precious point in a crucial Philippines Football League clash last Sunday at the Dynamic Herb Sports Complex.
Kaya’s Japanese winger Daizo Horikoshi struck his 14th goal of the season, before Jacob Liao found the equalizer as the league’s top two teams settled for a 1-1 stalemate.
It’s a crucial result for Kaya as it kept the two-point advantage over Cebu in the title race with only three matches left for both teams.
Kaya still has to play Maharlika, Mendiola and Stallion Laguna, while Cebu has two remaining matches against Stallion and another one against the Azkals Development Team.
“The players showed their worth,” said Kaya coach Yu Hoshide. “This was an important result for us.”
Hosting the final meeting of the season against their biggest rivals put Cebu in a strong position to wrest top spot. But the Gentle Giants fell behind in the eighth minute when Mar Diano found Horikoshi at the far post for a close-range finish past Jun Badelic.
Egged on by the home crowd, the Gentle Giants found the equalizer 11 minutes later when JB Borlongan floated in a free kick into the area. Liao was the quickest to react, slotting the ball past Zach Banzon to put the match back on a knife edge.
Even with the opportunities in the second half, the Gentle Giants struggled to find a cutting edge to pick apart a resolute Kaya defense and Banzon on goal.
“We needed to win to get the advantage and we were unable to get it,” said Cebu coach Mehmet Kakil.