KAYA FC Iloilo held its nerve in the penalty shootout to outlast Davao Aguilas-UMak and wrest the 2023 Copa Paulino Alcantara before a big Saturday night crowd at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Midfielder Justin Baas converted his spot kick to complete a 4-3 shootout win and ran into the waiting arms of teammate Quincy Kammeraad as Kaya celebrated a third Copa title after victories in 2018 and 2021.
Despite its advantage in depth and experience, Kaya needed to overcome a gritty Davao side that was making a comeback after four years of absence in the Philippine Football Federation’s flagship tournament.
Yannick Tuason’s header gave Davao a shock lead in first half stoppage time only for Arnel Amita to equalize in the second half.
Tuason glanced home a free kick from Paolo Bugas but Amita tied the match in the 65th minute sneaking from behind to take the ball away from Davao goalkeeper Dini Outtara before firing into an empty net.
Even with numerous opportunities late on and in extra time, Kaya could not finish off Davao which showed superb spirit to send the match into a shootout
In the end, Davao’s run did not get its fairytale ending as Kaya rose to the challenge in the shootout where Davao also took the early advantage.
But Kammeraad’s heroics highlighted by saves on Tuason and Serge Kaole’s efforts put Kaya on the front foot. It also helped that Abou Sy, Daizo Horikoshi and Jovin Bedic converted their penalty kicks.
There were still tense moments in the fifth round of the shootout as Ouattara initially saved Baas’ spotkick only for referee Meliton Pelayo to order a retake as the Davao goalkeeper was off his line before the shot.
Baas made no mistake on the second opportunity, confirming Kaya’s status as the country’s top club.
PFF president John Gutierrez and PFF Executive Committee member Lovely Tabada handed out the individual awards to Davao’s Paolo Bugas (best midfielder), Kaya’s Simone Rota (best defender), Kaya’s Abou Sy (best striker), Kammeraad (best goalkeeper) and Kaya’s Daizo Horikoshi (Most Valuable Player).