By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
KAYA FC-Iloilo kept the winning start of Philippine clubs seeing action at the AFC Cup 2020 with a hard-earned 2-0 victory over Shan United FC in an away Group H match on Wednesday in Myanmar.
Stayed the course despite its early struggles in the contest held at the Thuwunna Stadium, Kaya held on to book win number one in the tournament.
The win was in follow-up to that of fellow Philippine club Ceres-Negros FC, which also opened its AFC Cup campaign in Group G of the tournament with a win here at home on Tuesday.
It was a grind-it-out game for much of the time between Kaya and Shan United until veteran Jovin Bedic broke the nil-nil count at the 74th minute.
The teams slugged it out after but the Kaya would create further separation, 2-0, care of second-half substitute Eric Giganto in the 85th minute.
Shan United tried to rally back but Kaya held steady and went for the closeout the rest of the way.
“The first half we struggled a little bit, but we turned things around in the second half,” said Kaya head coach Oliver Colina.
“We got what we came for. It doesn’t matter if it’s two-nil, one-nil, or whatever. We got the three points, and that was our objective coming here,” he added.
Heading into this year’s AFC Cup, Kaya went on a recalibration of its roster, bringing in new players and coaches, including Mr. Colina.
“We’re a strong team also. We just played our game, got our chance and we took it,” said Mr. Colina of the mindset they had throughout the match.
For man of the match Giganto, he said hopefully the win inspires the whole team to continue improving as the tournament progresses.
“The feeling is great, especially to score here in Myanmar. They’re a good team. We saw them play before in the Philippines. Credit to my teammates, they worked so hard over the 90 minutes. Me, I was just in the right place at the right time and I scored,” said Mr. Giganto after the game.
Next for Kaya, in its third appearance at the AFC Cup, is a home match at the Rizal Memorial Stadium against Tampines Rovers of Singapore on Feb. 26.
Tampines was a 2-1 winner also on Wednesday over Indonesia’s PSM Makassar in their Group H match in Kailang.