Mendiola’s ‘hungry young lion’ devours Kaya strikes
Kaya-Iloilo FC was playing a team that had given up eight goals in its last two matches. And it needed just one to force a championship showdown.
Instead, it will rue its inability to get past a “hungry young lion” and a gritty Mendiola FC defense, which held the fancied squad to a scoreless draw on Friday morning in the Philippines Football League at PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite province.
“While my boys wanted to win I believe they did not give their full 100 percent,” said Kaya’s Japanese coach Yu Hoshide.
They could pay dearly for that misstep. Kaya’s chance hinged on a late game between powerhouse United City FC, a team that has been on a roll in the tournament, and Stallion. A draw could still force a winner-take-all contest on Monday.
But Kaya could have easily controlled its fate had it found a match-winner.
“Maybe my boys were a bit tired with only two days of rest between games. I don’t know,” Hoshide said.
Or maybe Mendiola simply was the better squad.
The squad, which was coming off terrible results in its last two games, got another outstanding performance from goalkeeper Kenry Balobo, whose spectacular saves in the second half thwarted Kaya’s hopes and gave Mendiola its first point in the competition.
The 22-year-old Balobo, who was a late cut from the Philippines Under-22 squad that saw action in last year’s 30th Southeast Asian Games, once again raised his stock with an impressive display. He also saved a penalty against Azkals Development Team last Tuesday.
“He is a hungry young lion who wants to prove himself out there in the [football] jungle,” Mendiola tactician Dan Padernal said.
Balobo said being left out of the SEA Games was a major motivation in improving his attitude and goalkeeping skills.
“I have moved on from that experience and I used that as motivation in making myself a better player so I could show everybody that I deserve a second chance in the national team,” he said.
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