TOP local football clubs United City Football Club and Kaya FC-Iloilo will take part in Asian Football Confederation (AFC) competitions this year.

Reigning Philippines Football League (PFL) champion United City and runner-up Kaya will represent the country in the AFC tournaments lined up this year and learned of their respective fixtures in draws held on Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

United City will be competing in the AFC Champions League, while Kaya will try to reach the group play of said competition, with the AFC Cup also waiting for it if ever.

PFL champion United City (formerly Ceres-Negros FC) is among the 40 teams seeing action in this year’s AFC Championship League, which kicks off with the preliminary stage on April 7 and the group stage beginning on April 14 in centralized venues to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

It is lumped in Group I along with Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale, two-time champion Guangzhou FC of China and a still-to-determined team coming from a playoff between teams from Thailand and Korea.

United City seeks to continue the competitive showing of its predecessor in international competitions and make history for Philippine football.

“Massive honor for UCFC to represent Philippine Football among these major Asian football powerhouses in AFC Champions League 2021. LET’S DO IT!” wrote the team on its official Facebook page.

United City won the PFL title last year in a “bubble” setting held at the Philippine Football Federation National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.

It did it in impressive fashion, dropping only one game throughout the tournament.

Kaya, meanwhile, looks to join United City in group play coming from the preliminaries.

It will face Australia’s Brisbane Roar FC on April 7 in preliminary play.

If Kaya moves past the first test, it then meets China’s Beijing FC in the next stage of the playoff with the winner there booking a spot in the AFC Champions League group play in Group F.

But in the event Kaya fails to advance, it will be relegated to the AFC Cup competition where it is in Group I of the ASEAN Zone along with Myanmar’s Shan United or Ayeyawady United, Terengganu FC of Malaysia, and Geylang International FC of Singapore.

The 2021 Cup is scheduled to kick off with the preliminary round on April 6 with the group stage matches to be played in centralized venues beginning May 14. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo