Goals from Jordan Mintah and Miguel Tanton ensured Kaya Makati continued their perfect record over the Davao Aguilas in the Philippines Football League. In front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex, Kaya faced the challenge of playing the new look Aguilas, and passed with flying colors.
“It was a tough game. It’s a completely new dynamic to Davao Aguilas,” said Makati head coach Noel Marcaida on facing a team that signed the likes of Phil and James Younghusband, Matthew Hartmann, Simone Rota, and Angel Guirado in the recent transfer window.
“You can see from the start of the game that they have the height, which we lack. But we were able to manage that disadvantage by staying sharp in set pieces,” he added. “I think the difference of the game is my players really switched on and stayed sharp when it comes to set pieces defensively and offensively. That’s why we got two important goals from set pieces,” he added.
The game started in almost perfect fashion for Makati. Immediately from kickoff, Eric Giganto, who earned a start in his hometown, stung the palms of the goalie with a powerful strike from the edge of the box. The next 10 minutes saw the visitors comfortably control the match. But that spell ended with a couple of dangerous crosses from the home team. Davao started to settle after that.
Halfway through the period, they got their best chance to score. From a corner kick, James Younghusband did well to wriggle free from his marker, but could only head over the bar. What followed was a spell where neither team could stamp their authority on the game. But right before the half ended, Kaya took the lead through Jordan Mintah.
Attacking a corner kick, the prolific striker headed the delivery goal wards, only for the it to be cleared off the line. But fortunately, the ball went straight back to the Ghanaian, who made no mistake with his second header.
“We lost our concentration in the last minute of the first half from a quick corner. It was very costly to Davao Aguilas,” said their head coach Marlon Maro. “And again, a foul at the top of the penalty box from a transition from Kaya.”
That play happened on the hour mark. Released by a sweet pass from Miguel Tanton, Jordan Mintah raced towards goal with only the keeper to beat. But before he could set up for a shot, he got clipped from behind by one of the trailing defenders. The culprit was perhaps lucky to escape with just a yellow, but the foul would come at a hefty price.
What followed was a delightful piece of skill from Miguel Tanton. From the edge of the box, he curled the free kick perfectly into the top corner, doubling the lead and deflating any hopes of a fightback. The midfielder seemed to have added a third shortly after.
Given space from 25 yards out, the midfielder unleashed an absolute rocket that smashed the back of the net. While the Kaya players were celebrating the outrageous strike, the goal was waved away, with the assistant referee claiming there was an offside infraction on the play. Although disappointed not to add to their tally, Kaya played out the rest of the match with relative ease.
“It’s always nice to score in the run of play, because I scored one in the run of play,” joked Tanton, who upped his goal tally to four, and was named Man of the Match.
“Communication was key to winning the midfield battle. The three of us (Marwin Angeles and Adam Reed) were talking a lot during the game. We knew where to track back and cover for guys leaving spaces in the middle,” he explained. “We were switched on and that was the game plan from the beginning. I think the work rate was extremely high from us today.”
The victory moves Kaya Makati to 47 points in the PFL, with only two games remaining in their regular season campaign.
“We’re very satisfied. From the start to finish, you can see the intensity of the players, it was really high. The work rate was also really high. When we lost possession, we were trying to regain it very quickly. In transition, we had chances where we were able to break even though they are a solid defensive unit. We’re very satisfied. We were able to get the mission of taking the three points,” said Marcaida.
“We lost the game tonight to a better team,” said Davao’s Maro. “We lost the game tonight because we lost our concentration in the last minute of the first half. We are fortunate that the third goal was nullified, I don’t know why. But in the end, there were areas where the team needs to improve, especially our transition.”
Next, Kaya Makati face rivals Meralco Manila on Saturday, in what is a top of the table clash in the PFL. With only a point separating the two teams, the winner of that game will enjoy top position in the league.
“We’re happy to play Aguilas, with their system, where it’s more identical to our next game. It’s a transition game where the players really need to switch on,” said Marcaida.
The match against Meralco will kickoff at 7pm, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.