Originally published by Watchmen Daily Journal Online
By Adrian Stewart Co
Kaya-Futbol Club Iloilo will have two must-win matches this March in hopes of earning a seat into the group stage of the 2021 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League slated later this year.
The Iloilo City-based football club will kick off its chase for a second consecutive group stage appearance against a to-be-determined football squad from Australia in the preliminary stage on March 8.
The winner of the said encounter between Kaya-Iloilo and the Aussie team will then advance to the next phase of the playoffs round against China’s Changcun Yatai FC on March 15.
Should Kaya-Iloilo pull off two consecutive upsets, they will compete in Group H alongside the 2021 K-League Champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos, and Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC.
But, if Kaya-Iloilo drops either of the two matches, they will be relegated to the second tier 2022 AFC Cup and join Indonesia’s Bali United FC, Malaysia’s Kedah Darul Aman FC, and the winner between Cambodia’s Visakha FC and Laos’ Young Elephants FC.
In 2021, Kaya FC-Iloilo made history and secured their first AFC Champions League berth following the pullout of Brisbane Roar and a stunning win over Shanghai Port FC in the Playoff Round.
In the AFC Champions League group stage, the Ilonggos suffered defeats against group members BG Pathum United (Thailand), Viettel FC (Vietnam), and Ulsan Hyundai FC (South Korea).
Kaya-Iloilo has been hit by player departures earlier this year with Dylan de Bruycker, Marco Casambre and Marwin Angeles taking their talents to other ASEAN leagues. The club is expected to announce their new signings soon.
Meanwhile, another Philippine-based football club in United City Football Club is making a return in this year’s AFC Champions League and is automatically in the group stage for ruling the 2020 Philippines Football League.
United City, which took a leave of absence during the 2021 Copa Paulino Alcantara, was drawn against BG Pathum United of Thailand, Jeonnam Dragons of Korea Republic, and Melbourne City FC of Australia in Group G./ASC, WD