WHILE they emerged as Match Day 1 winners in the Philippines Football League (PFL) season kickoff on Wednesday and earned the valuable three points for it, United City Football Club (FC) and Kaya FC-Iloilo admitted they are still not in the form they want to be in and are looking to shape up further moving forward.

United City (formerly Ceres-Negros FC) was a 1-0 winner over the Azkals Development Team while Kaya also scored a 1-0 victory over Maharlika Manila FC in the opening games of the new PFL season at the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.

Mike Ott provided what turned out to be the marginal goal for United City in the 25th minute to secure their victory in what was a physical match.

United City had control much of the time with the young Azkals side having its moments here and there.

The match was marred by a red card when Manny Ott was penalized for a rough challenge on ADT player Troy Limbo in the 84th minute, resulting in some commotion after.

Manny Ott’s departure left United City with just 10 men for the duration of the match, but it did not matter as his team held on for the win. He, however, will have to sit out their next game.

Despite the win, coach Franklin Muescan shared that they could have done better in the game, but understood where his wards were coming from with the long break and all because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Seven months we did not play 11-a-side. We did not have friendlies. We did not have tune-up games. For this first game, we still lacked rhythm in creating chances but improvement, I believe, will come,” said Mr. Muescan in the Zoom Meetings post-game press conference.

As to the absence of Manny Ott for their next game, the United City coach said they will try to manage and ask other players to step up.

On-field performance improvements are also what Kaya will try to work on following their “passable” showing in its season debut.

Coach Yu Hoshide said they could have capitalized more on scoring opportunities presented to them and made it a more wide open victory for them that could play a big role in a quick tournament like the one at hand.

Midfielder Jayson Panhay scored the lone goal of the match in the 29th minute.

“Important thing is we got three points, but obviously, we need to take advantage of our scoring opportunities. Hopefully in the coming games, we get to do that,” he said.

In this season of the PFL, it has decided to shorten the proceedings to better deal with the pandemic.

Each of the six competing teams will play each other once with the team on top in the end crowned as champion.

Season four of the PFL is being done in a “bubble” setup with the PFF National Training Center the official game venue while Seda Nuvali in Santa Rosa, Laguna, houses the teams and the league for the duration of the proceedings.

Strict health and safety protocols are in effect which all clubs must adhere to.

Match Day 2 of the PFL happens on Oct. 31 with Stallion Laguna FC versus Maharlika FC at 9 a.m., Mendiola FC 1991 against United City at 4:30 p.m., and Kaya vs. ADT at 8 p.m. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo