7’s Football: Cebu rules 2nd KAMPEON Cup, defends title

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BACOLOD City — Tribu Sugbu of Cebu continued to be the standard in 7’s Football, conquering the McKinley Hill-Bonifacio Global City Warriors in the 2nd AIA Vitality KAMPEON Cup final, 2-1 to successfully defend its crown on Sunday at the La Provincia Field.

Eventual Most Valuable Player John Clyde Vitualla slotted in the insurance goal in the 45th minute to send the Cebu all-star selection to a commanding 2-0 lead late in the match, just nine minutes after foreign player Hayato Fukui scored the opener in the 36th.

BACK TO BACK. Tribu Sugbu Cebu pose with 7’s Bacolod’s Miguel Rivero (left), 7’s Iloilo’s Luke Trasporto (2nd from left), Anton del Rosario (3rd from left), Mark 7’s Pampanga’s Mark Francisco (3rd from right, partly hidden), AIA Philippines’ Paola Lepatan (2nd from right), and La Provincia Fields owner Armeli Zayco

Team BGC pulled one back in the 49th via a penalty by tournament Best Scorer Tonaldo after Cebu accumulated six fouls in one half — one of the standard rules under the 7’s Football League wherein a sixth team foul automatically awards a penalty for the opposing side.

However, Cebu’s shot stopper and later on tournament Best Goalkeeper Leonard Tan pulled off a remarkable performance in the championship, not allowing BGC to capitalize even after gaining a lion’s share of the shots behind its intense attacking.

Undefeated

Cebu went unbeaten throughout the six-team tournament, finishing with a 4-0 slate. They beat BGC in the group stages as well, 3-1, before dominating the Iloilo Ilustrados, 9-4 in a match where Vitualla tallied a hattrick.

In the crossover semifinals, the Cebuano side would dominate home team Bacolod All Stars, 4-1 with three other different scorers joining Vitualla.

For their part, the BGC Warriors bounced back with a 7-5 win over the Ilustrados in the elimination round, before shutting PCY F.C. San Carlos City, 7-0 in their own semifinal pairing. In the process, BGC overcame a right toe injury by Anton del Rosario.

That anti-climactic loss punctuated the campaign for the San Carlos side, which had swept Group A with wins over Pampanga’s Best and Bacolod.

Bacolod would reach the semifinals after a Day 2 victory over Pampanga, 2-1 where the squad overcame the deficit behind conversions from Carlo Tacusalme and Jimuel Ariola.

Cebu’s sweep of the KAMPEON Cup follows its 2019 conquest in McKinley Hill when it likewise beat the Taguig-based selection, plus representatives from Bacolod and Davao.

During that time, the prominent Leylam F.C. represented the island province and went on to claim the inaugural trophy.

Portent of things to come

As previously mentioned by Del Rosario himself, the AIA 7’s Football League and its major sponsor AIA Philippines are working on the next steps in expanding the KAMPEON Cup even further.

The former Philippine Azkals defender and league founder said an international tournament in 2023 is in the works, with players from Cebu definitely in the mix for the Pinoy representative team.

Meanwhile, the third edition of the KAMPEON Cup will tentatively commence in March 2023 as the AIA 7’s Football League looks to hold the prestigious national seven-a-side event twice in a calendar year.

The league is targeting expanding the number of participating teams as the organizers continue to target having at least 24 cities with independently-ran 7’s Football Leagues in the next few years.

Contributed photo

Nguyễn J. Văn Linh (Levi Verora)