"Kaya guns for ACL return"

Originally published by Daily Tribune Online

Kaya FC is plotting its plans for another shot at the AFC Champions League (ACL) in March.

Kaya head coach Yu Hoshide said they are raring to pull off another breakthrough campaign as they restart their bid for a second consecutive appearance in the top-flight Asian club tourney.

The Iloilo-based squad is set to kick off its qualifying campaign against a football squad from Australia in the opening round on 8 March.

The Australian club will be determined as soon as their domestic league, the A-League, is over.

The winner of this encounter will advance to the next phase where it will battle Chinese powerhouse Changcun Yatai FC on 15 March.

“I know it’s not easy to win the preliminary and playoff, but I am sure we will do our best to be back playing in the ACL group stage. We all look forward to that,” Hoshide told Daily Tribune in an interview.

“Actually, we restarted training via Zoom already. So we are just waiting for a go-signal to start our bubble training.”

Kaya made history last year as it secured its first ACL berth following a stunning victory over Shanghai Port FC, joining fellow Filipino club United City FC in the prestigious showpiece.

The squad, however, suffered an underwhelming campaign and ended up empty-handed in Group F against Thai league champion BG Pathum United, Vietnamese league supremo Viettel FC and 2020 ACL champion Ulsan Hyundai FC.

Kaya bounced back in the domestic level as it captured its second Copa Paulino Alcantara title against Azkals Development Team in the finals in November.

But should the club fail to punch a ticket to the ACL, it will still get to see action in the second-tier AFC Cup in May.

Kaya is drawn in Group G with Bali United FC in Indonesia, Kedah Darul Aman FC of Malaysia and the playoff winner between Visakha FC of Cambodia and Young Elephants FC of Laos.

The team is expected to bank on its veteran booter Jovin Bedic, goalkeeper Louie Casas and Japanese reinforcements Daizo Horikoshi and Ryo Fujii

“I know we still have good players who are hungry to step up and be the new heroes for our upcoming games,” Hoshide said.

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