By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
LOCAL CLUB Kaya FC-Iloilo parades its recalibrated roster when it begins its AFC Cup 2020 campaign in an away match today against Shan United FC in Myanmar.
Making a return trip to the tournament, Kaya, playing in Group H, gets its bid rolling at the Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon at 5 p.m. (Philippine time), banking on a number of offseason acquisitions and changes which it hopes would propel it to improve on its showing last year where it failed to move past group play.
In the AFC Cup, only the top teams in the ASEAN groupings and the runner-up with the best record advance to the next round of competition.
Kaya this year will be parading five new players, two new coaches, and with former number two, Yu Hoshide, now leading the team.
The new players are Carlyle Mitchell (Trinidad & Tobago), Daizo Horikoshi (Japan), Takumi Uesato (Japan), Roberto Corsame (Philippines) and Marco Casambre (Philippines) while the new coaches are Rolando Cabañiero (GK Coach, Philippines) and Oliver Colina (Head Coach, Philippines).
Kaya is now without players Alfred Osei (Ghana), Jordan Mintah (Ghana), Darryl Roberts (Trinidad & Tobago), Yannick Tuason (Philippines) and Janrick Soriano (Philippines) and coaches Ref Cuaresma (GK Coach) Noel Marcaida (Head Coach).
“The coaching staff and three foreigners have been changed, but I have a strong feeling that we’ll be a better club — better than we were in the past few years,” said Mr. Hoshide in the lead-up.
“Half of me is really excited, and half of me is nervous. This group hasn’t played this level of competition yet. But now we have a chance to show what we’ve been doing in training,” he added.
This year’s competition marks the third time that Kaya is competing in the AFC Cup, and just like the previous years it was in it the team is not expecting things to be easy, beginning with Myanmar National League champion Shan United today.
But despite the expected tough task ahead, Mr. Hoshide said they would do everything to put themselves in a good position to compete game in and game out.
“It’s a really tough group, but we have a chance. We’re always challengers. There’s no need to be afraid. We will challenge in all games from the kickoff until the 90th minute. That’s my style — always challenge,” said Mr. Hoshide.
Apart from Shan United, also in Group H are Tampines Rovers (Singapore), and PSM Makassar (Indonesia).
The match between Kaya and Shan United will be aired live on FOX Sports 2.