Originally published by Panay News Online
MANILA – With the sudden pullout of Changchun Yatai FC, Kaya Futbol Club-Iloilo are just a victory away from making a return to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League’s group stage.
The Iloilo City-based football club will just have to beat Australia’s Sydney FC on March 8 at the Netstrata Jubilee Arena in Australia to advance to the AFC Champions League’s tournament proper.
The AFC announced on Tuesday that it has accepted Changchun Yatai FC’s decision to withdraw but the reason for the pullout was not mentioned.
“Therefore, in accordance with the AFC Champions League 2022 Competition Regulations, the Playoff Stage match between Changchun Yatai FC and the winners of the Preliminary Stage tie between Australia’s Sydney FC and Kaya FC-Iloilo from the Philippines, which was scheduled to take place on March 15, 2022, has been canceled.”
In the event that Kaya-Iloilo pulls off a stunner against Sydney, they will join Champions League’s Group H along with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors from South Korea, Japan’s Yokohama F Marinos, and Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
The 2022 AFC Champions League is to be held in a centralized location in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam from April 15 to May 1.
However, if the Philippine-based team will lose against Sydney FC, they will once again be relegated to the second tier 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.
“Really interesting group and excited to play AFC Cup again,” said Kaya-Iloilo head coach Yu Hoshide. “Preparation will be the key to winning, so we will try our best to push for the title.”
This is the third straight year that the Iloilo City-based football team, which ruled the 2021 Copa Paulino Alcantara late last year, is fighting for a slot in AFC Champions League group stage.
Unlike Kaya-Iloilo, four-time defending Philippines Football League (PFL) champion United City Football Club is automatically playing in the 2022 AFC Champions League./PN