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Originally published by Daily Tribune Online

Kaya Iloilo FC and United City FC will battle for supremacy in the 2022 Copa Paulino Alcantara final today at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.

Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. with the defending champion Kaya shooting for back-to-back titles and claim its third overall crown in the prestigious domestic bootfest.

Kaya head coach Yu Hoshide and his wards will enter the pitch oozing with confidence as they try to defend their crown in what might be deemed as the battle between two of the strongest forces in Philippine football.

Since the tournament’s inaugural staging in 2018, Kaya and United City are the only two teams to successfully win respective titles.

The Iloilo-based club captured the 2018 and 2021 crowns, while United City, which was then known as Ceres-Negros FC, ruled the 2019 season.

Hoshide said they need to come up with a stronger approach knowing that United City is a big threat to their crown.

“All of us are well prepared for the finals, both mentally and physically. This is our new challenge, that we will be champions two years in a row,” said Hoshide, who is expecting a tougher performance from Copa top scorer Daizo Horikoshi, skipper Jovin Bedic and Carlyle Mitchell.

“We did well at group stage against United City so based on that game, we will adjust our intensity, tactics and more.”

But beating United City is easier said than done.

United City team owner Eric Gottschalk said they are eager to reclaim the throne after missing the 2021 season, followed by a frustrating campaign in the AFC Champions League last month.

It will be the first time for the club to make it in the finals since the departure of veterans Stephan Schrock and Bienvenido Marañon.

“This is the first time in almost three years that a national title is on the line between the two heavyweights of Philippines football,” Gottshcalk said.

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