Originally published by Daily Tribune Online
Reigning champion Kaya Iloilo FC and United City (UCFC) booked a final duel after crushing their respective foes in the semifinals of the Copa Paulina Alcantara at the PFF National Training Center late Tuesday.
Kaya relied on Daizo Horikoshi’s late goal as the Busmen escaped Stallion Laguna FC, 1-0, to improve their bid for back-to-back titles in the prestigious tourney.
UCFC also moved closer to the title after forging 1-0 win over the gritty Dynamic Herb Cebu FC.
Kaya and UCFC will battle for the crown in a winner-takes-all match on Sunday at the same Carmona venue.
“This situation is really difficult and tough for us but we believe that we can win. Now that we won, we have to go together in the finals,” Horikoshi said.
“I really wanted to score and help our team. That’s why I kicked the (winning) ball.”
After leading the table with 16 points built on five wins and one draw, the undefeated Iloilo-based crew had a hard time getting past Stallion’s defense in the first 80 minutes of action.
Stallion defender Matthew Nierras’ muffed a clearance that allowed a running Horikoshi to unleash a thunderous right corner shot with only five minutes left.
With that, the squad will enter its second consecutive finals appearance and will get a shot for a third championship title since 2018.
UCFC, meanwhile, ended Cebu’s impressive run after Simen Lyngbo’s 60th minute header served as the solitary goal in the highly-physical match.
UCFC owner Eric Gottschalk was elated over his team’s victory as it gives them a chance to bounce back from an empty-handed performance in the AFC Champions League last month.