KAYA FC-Iloilo treks back to AFC Cup action today as it hosts Home United FC of Singapore in a Group H match at 3 p.m. at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City.
Playing at fellow AFC Cup participant Ceres-Negros FC’s home turf, Kaya tries to improve on its draw performance in its opener and finally barge into the win column of the tournament.
Kaya, the Copa Paulino Alcantara champion, is playing its home matches at Panaad after the Iloilo Sports Complex where it plays was ruled short of the stadium standards required to host an AFC event “despite exhausting all efforts to prepare the venue.”
The team nonetheless vowed to do its best in today’s game with the Iloilo fans on its mind and expressed hope that down the line “it will be able to give Iloilo a firsthand experience of the excitement of hosting AFC matches.”
Kaya settled for a 1-1 draw with Lao Toyota FC in its 2019 AFC Cup opener in Laos on Feb. 27, depriving it of the full three points.
Seemingly on its way to a victory last time around when Jovin Bedic scored a goal in the 18th minute, Kaya saw itself forced to a draw by home team Lao when defender Sayfa Aphideth managed to break through in the 87th minute.
Kaya got off to a flying start at the Laos National Stadium, forcing Lao’s defense to work early.
Mr. Bedic’s goal put more pressure on their opponent while also propelling Kaya’s motor all the way to the break.
But Lao was not to go out easily, capitalizing on the opportunities presented to it.
Its efforts paid off late in the contest as Mr. Aphideth found himself in great scoring position and delivered accordingly with three minutes left in regulation time after catching a pass from captain Kazuo Honma.
Kaya still tried to salvage a win after but was unsuccessful in doing so and just settled for a point from the draw.
It was an outcome that left Kaya ruing and something it hopes to make up for today.
“We were unlucky not to get all three points. We played well in the first half. We were able to control things. But we didn’t play so well in the second,” said Iloilo head coach Noel Marcaida after their match against Lao.
“Moving forward we need to learn to be switched on for the full 90,” the coach added.
Home United, for its part, was also held to a 1-1 draw by SM Makassar of Indonesia in its opener, leaving all teams in the group with a point each entering Group H matches today and making the Kaya-Home United game more important for group leadership. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo