The Cebu Leylam F.C. Niños claimed the inaugural Philam Vitality KAMPEON 7s Cup crown in style, beating Maharlika F.C. Manila in an intense final showdown, 5-3 during the culminating day of the event Sunday at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig.
Marius Kore set the tone for the Cebuanos, scoring a hat-trick in the first half before the Niños held on for the victory to be hailed the best 7s football team in the country. Cebu bested all-star teams from Manila, Bacolod, and Davao.
Leylam F.C. led 3-nil in the first half before Aly Borormeo finally broke resistance for Manila early in the second half inside the box. Moments later, Anton Del Rosario scored on a volley off a set piece as Manila pulled closer.
But Leo Maquiling found himself with a lot of space in the attacking third for Cebu, rifling in another goal past Manila keeper Cedric Hodreal for Cebu’s fourth goal of the championship match.
Not to be outdone, Hamed Hadjimehdi scored on a penalty kick after being fouled inside the box, as Manila once again cut the difference to 4-3 in the 35th minute mark.
Manila had several chances to equalize in the final minutes, including a volley from Borromeo which went above the crossbar, and a strike by Mateo Yuhico that went wide.
Ultimately, a counterattack from Cebu sealed the victory with an assurance goal from Maquiling, making it a brace from the booter out of Sacred Heart Ateneo de Cebu.
“We worked hard for this tournament. We trained for two months. We believed and we knew nothing could stop us,” said Kore. “For me, it’s also my first time to play in a tournament like this, going against some professionals, UFL, and PFL players, so it was a good challenge for me.”
Kore was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Cebu’s keeper, Bennydick Saligan, took home the Best Goal Keeper of the tournament plum while Hadjimehdi won the Golden Boot Award after scoring five goals in Day 2 alone. They all received gift certificates from Garmin.
Leylam F.C. took home a cash prize of 25,000 pesos along with the championship trophy.
Aside from the tournaments, the KAMPEON 7s Cup also partnered with One Big Fight Cancer Awareness Drive, an initiative of Philippine women’s football team member Belay Fernando, to raise funds for cancer patients. Games were held with proceeds going to the foundation’s GoFundMe account. Autographed jerseys from top athletes like Rachel Ann Daquis, James Younghusband, and Sonny Thoss were also raffled off for donors.
“It was a great event. There was a lot of excitement. Congratulations to Leylam F.C. We knew Cebu was going to come out strong. They have been together for a while. It was a very fun and competitive tournament,” said 7s Football League founder Del Rosario.
Del Rosario also bared that Season 4 Manila, which is tentatively set to kick-off on September 8, is expected to have 12 men’s teams, eight men’s second division teams, 12 women’s teams, and four youth division tournaments divided into three phases throughout the season.
An ambitious ASEAN 7s Cup project involving Brunei, Singapore, and Malaysia is also in the works.