LEFT for dead as it trailed in their Group H AFC Cup match in Indonesia on Tuesday after 90 minutes of play, Kaya FC-Iloilo sprang up a surprise in the three-minute injury time to level the count at 1-1 with hometown bet PSM Makassar and earn a point to keep it on top of the grouping.
Midfielder Marwin Angeles came to Kaya’s rescue as he converted the late equalizer injury time to cancel out Eero Markkanen’s penalty in the 56th minute of the contest to force a draw.
The team’s no-letup predisposition did not go unnoticed by its coach, who praised his players’ “big heart” amid the adversity it faced.
“It was a really tough game. PSM were really dangerous whenever they received the ball in front of our defensive line. It wasn’t our best performance, but it was our big heart that allowed us to get that late goal. All in all we deserved to get that point. And with that away goal, it gives us a boost ahead of our game in Bacolod. I’m proud of my boys,” said Iloilo head coach Noel Marcaida after their win.
It was a tight match all the way to the 56th minute when PSM Makassar broke the goalless tie with Mr. Markkanen’s penalty.
Kaya scrambled to get the point back and had several opportunities but just could not complete them.
In the three-minute injury time, Kaya continued to work to be able to salvage a draw. Its efforts were rewarded when Jovin Bedic’s free kick found Mr. Angeles all alone inside the box.
With only the keeper to beat, the midfielder chested the ball and calmly slotted it into the net to secure a dramatic draw.
“It was a collective effort. My 11 players really worked hard, from the goalkeeper to the striker. My players really had that fighting mentality. We nullified their obvious physical advantage, especially in set pieces. This point gives us a lot of confidence heading into our home game,” said Mr. Marcaida, whose team sits at the top of Group G in the AFC Cup with a record of one win and two draws for five points.
Kaya next plays at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium on April 17 versus PSM Makassar once again. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo