The Philippines Football League’s current season is about to end with Kaya FC-Iloilo holding a two-point lead over Dynamic Herb Cebu FC with just three remaining games in their respective campaigns.
As of yesterday, Kaya is on top after scoring 15 wins, one draw and three losses in 19 games for a total of 46 points. The Gentle Giants have tallied 13 wins, five draws and just a single loss to emerge in second place with 44 points.
Mathematically, Cebu is still in contention to bring home the title as long as they win all their remaining games and pray that Kaya will lose a game or draw two matches in their last three fixtures. If the Iloilo-based side wins all its remaining games, then it will take the title even if Cebu also goes unbeaten the rest of the tournament.
Aside from this possibility, there is another interesting story on why the Cebuanos are on the verge of a breakout season, if it is not yet one.
And this is about Daniel Gadia, the former UP Maroon, Bedan and national team player. Gaw, as Gadia is popularly called, is a defensive midfielder for the Gentle Giants. But lately, he is on fire offensively, literally on a tear after scoring three goals in Cebu’s last four games to boost the Cebuano side of pulling the rug under their Iloilo rivals.
In a chat with The Designated Kit Man, Gadia says the team is going all out to win their last three games against the Stallion Laguna, twice at home at the Dynamic Herb Borromeo Sports Complex in Cebu City on May 21 and 23, before ending their campaign with another home game against the Azkals Development Team on May 27.
Kaya, on the other hand, will go against Mendiola FC 1991 on April 30 at Rizal Memorial Stadium, against Maharlika Manila FC on May 20 at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig City, before wrapping its season with a match against Stallion Laguna on May 27.
Gadia says having a pitch of their own in Cebu City is one of the many reasons why the Gentle Giants have flexed their might in the tournament.
“Malaking bagay ‘yung home pitch namin sa Cebu kasi nakakapag-training kami anytime at kahit gaano pa kami katagal, okay lang. Malaking bagay din ang aming mga coaches na talagang tinutulungan kaming mag-improve everyday. At siyempre ‘yung management with the way they take care of us, and of course, the way the team has bonded the past few months,” Gadia said.
Gadia also takes note of the importance of how their pitch was constructed to enable them to be close to their rabid fans whenever they play in Cebu City.
“Grabe kasi ang crowd, grabe ang home support. ‘Yung pitch kasi malapit mismo sa stands kaya dinig na dinig namin ang sigaw ng mga fans. Malaking bagay to pag naglalaro kami, sila ang aming 12th man sa pitch,” Gadia revealed.
Gadia reveals that to win the title will not just be great for the City of Cebu and to the the management and several players, who overcome personal tragedies of their own. It will also validate his personal goals and the sacrifices he has made to become a better player every day, every game.
“It is what I promised to myself. I want to improve every game as my team yearns to improve also to get the crown. Sabi ko sarili ko wala pa ako napapatunayan so it is a constant reminder kasi in football, there is always something you can improve from. It is always an ongoing process,” Gadia explained.
Despite the disparity in the standings, Gadia says they are not taking their foes from Laguna lightly and the young guns of ADT.
“Malakas ang Stallion kasi nag-reinforce sila ng mga bagong players at magaling din ang ADT. So need talaga na paghandaan namin sila to at least entertain the idea of winning the tournament,” Gadia added.
Gadia says he is calling all Cebuanos, and all football fans in general, to rally behind the Gentle Giants in their bid to finish the tournament on high.
Speaking of high, the Filipinas U17 squad are through to the second round of the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers after beating Lebanon, 2-0 to emerge as Group G winners. Powered by a Nina Mathelus’ hat trick, the team earlier beat Guam, 3-1, to open their bid on the right foot.
Speaking of starting right, please vote for Kyle Villanueva Saulter as Houston Public Schools Boy’s Soccer Player of the Year. He is going up against 24 other outstanding players from all over Houston in the fan polls.
Saulter, a midfielder from Fulshear, traces his roots in Pangasinan. He is the great great grandson of Leon Villanueva, who was a playmate of Narciso Ramos in San Manuel. He is the grandson of Ben Villanueva of Cavite. Kyle is also the nephew of my Bedan brother and die-hard football fan, Raymund Villanueva. Let’s help this future Azkal get the win!
Please join us for another interesting episode of 3PTS-Pambansang Tambayan ng Sports this Sunday, April 30, from 2 to 3 p.m. over DZME 1530 khz. Legendary bench tactician Coach Joe Lipa, local basketball walking archive Aris Garcia and Peter Lopez will be the featured guests.
Stay safe. Stay happy peeps!
For comments or questions, you can reach The Designated Kit Man at erel_ca[email protected] or follow his account at Twitter: @erelcabatbat