UP whips Ateneo in UAAP football opener

by Adrian Taningco

Nii Aryee Ayi of UP vies for the ball during a football match against Ateneo. UP Men's Football team beat Ateneo with a 2-0 score. JON BENEDIK BUNQUIN

The University of the Philippines kicked off its football crown defense during the opening day of the 74th UAAP football season with a hard-fought and ill-tempered 2-0 win over the Ateneo de Manila University Saturday at the Ateneo High School Football Field.

Juan Miguel Roy and Nii Aryee Ayi struck for the defending champions either side of halftime to defeat their neighbors from Katipunan, whose goalkeeper was sent off ten minutes from time.

“A win is a win, but I’m far from satisfied,” said UP Coach Anto Gonzales. “Overall the first game is always the most difficult game. I hope things will only get better,” he continued.

The Maroons took the lead in the 24th minute, courtesy of senior Roy. The defender drilled a perfectly executed corner kick taken by last season’s Rookie of the Year Jinggoy Valmayor past the diving Ateneo goalie RS Mantos.

Mantos, who was involved in a couple altercations with UP players during the game, was culpable for the second as he was deemed to have committed an unsportsmanlike foul against a UP attacker inside Ateneo’s penalty area in the 80th minute.

The referee flashed a red card at Mantos, who had a few choice words towards the UP bench before exiting the field.

After all the commotion, Ayi coolly stepped up to slot the penalty kick past Ateneo’s substitute goalkeeper and secured the Maroons’ winning start to their campaign.

After the game, Coach Gonzales did not hide his displeasure with Mantos’ antics.

“He’s been like that for a very long time already, kaya ako kanina di ko na napigilan. I really approached him, and I told him ‘matututo ka ng respeto’” said Gonzales. Apparently, this wasn’t UP’s first run-in with the Atenean, who was also sent off for spitting on a UP player in a previous match.

“That guy really has a character problem,” added Gonzales.

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Photos by Jon Benedik Bunquin, Loj Guinmapang, Gian Suyat and Joshua Dalupang