LEYLAM FC has dominated the Men’s Open of the Aboitiz Cup–or even other local men’s open tournaments–for so long that I can no longer remember the last time the team lost. They have such a fearsome reputation that some diehard fans even believe that Leylam–not Global FC–should be our team in the PFL.
In the last men’s open final against Erco, Leylam scored a last-minute free kick to defend their crown against an Erco team that had Darren Hartman and Chieffy Caligdong.
However, during this year’s Aboitiz Cup, it took a college team to dislodge the long-time champion from the top, via penalty shootout at that. Again, Miguel Kwan played the hero’s role for USC, scoring the equalizer in regulation, while Terence Colmenares had another great stint between the posts, saving Albert Nangkil’s penalty to seal the win. Here’s an interesting tidbit: Nangkil was already playing in the men’s open division for Crazy Horse when players like Colmenares and Kwan were still in the U9 divisions.
Just like in their Cesafi triumph, Kwan again came as a second half substitute, and though I was in Bacolod during the game, I can just imagine coach Allan Medalla checking his watch every other minute for the perfect time to field Kwan.
Kwan’s late entry was just one of the master strokes of coach Allan in that final. In the dying minutes of extra time, he put Colmenares back on goal after playing him on defense.
USC will be facing Leylam’s long-time rival, Erco FC, in this Sunday’s final and I’m sure the fans will be there in droves anew.
Can USC go all the way and win the men’s open of the Aboitiz Cup, just months after winning the Cesafi title? I don’t know. I hope they do because that’s going to be a rare double. In fact, I can’t remember a team being both the Aboitiz Cup men’s open champion and the Cesafi collegiate champion.
For sure, USC is the underdog against Erco, but hey, who doesn’t like an underdog story?
The men’s open final will cap another year of the Aboitiz Cup season, Cebu’s longest-running 11-a-side tournament. The Aboitiz Foundation is mulling to adopt the same formula in areas where they have properties and I think it’s about time to do that.
And the logical next step after adoptiong the Cebu formula in other areas is to put up a champions league. Now that’s something that hasn’t been done in the country.