Gentle Giants sweep Group B, barge into quarterfinals of Copa Paulino Alcantara
DAPITAN CITY, Philippines — The Cebu Football Club (CFC) Gentle Giants swept Group B of the Copa Paulino Alcantara with a 2-1 victory over Maharlika Manila FC on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The victory secured the Gentle Giants’ not just the top spot, but an easy ticket to the two-leg quarterfinals. They sealed the group stage with a perfect 12 points from winning four matches.
The Gentle Giants will likely face the University of the Philippines (UP) in the quarterfinals, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Uzoka gives Gentle Giants first goal
CFC’s win over Maharlika Manila was headed by Chima Uzoka who scored the first goal at the third minute. Uzoka picked a cross pass from Baris Tasci to score their first goal.
The goal served as Uzoka’s fifth official goal in the tournament and tied with Davao Aguilas’ Yannick Tuason, Tuloy’s John Jalique, and Kaya’s Ricardo Sendra.
Turkish forward Arda Çinkir made it 2-0 in the 16th minute. Çinkir picked a cross from JB Borlongan who dodged a defender to the middle.
CFC sealed the first half with a 2-0 advantage. In the second half, CFC made substitutions sending Jun Badelic in at the goal post, replacing Ace Villanueva, while Papu Corsame came in for Japanese Ryoo Togashi.
Maharlika FC fight back came up short
Not to be outfought, Maharlika surprised CFC with a 52nd minute from MJ Canicosa, 2-1.
Maharlika put on a good fight in the second half after nearly scoring an equalizer, but Badelic deflected the attempt twice.
CFC Gentle Giants made mid-game substitutions in the second half, sending Kintaro Miyagi for Borlongan for added size, while Ken Murayama subbed for Uzoka.
CFC was on the verge of victory when one of their reliable wingers, Rintaro Hama got injured and was even carried off the field with a stretcher in the extra minute.
Still, CFC walked away with the victory in hand.
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