HAD its 2020 AFC Cup campaign abruptly cut by the coronavirus pandemic, local football club Kaya FC-Iloilo now channels its focus in its bid in the Philippines Football League (PFL) where it hopes to win its first-ever league title.
Following the decision of the AFC Executive Committee late last week to cancel altogether the remainder of the AFC Cup because of logistical issues and concerns, Philippine clubs seeing action in the tournament had no choice but to accept what was seemingly an eventual decision amid the prevailing conditions in different parts of the world brought about by the health crisis.
For Kaya, while it laments the cancellation of the tournament, it is choosing to view the turn of events as an opportunity to give more focus on its campaign in the long-delayed 2020 edition of the PFL.
“The cancelation of this year’s AFC Cup only means we’re more focused than ever to get ourselves right for the start of #PFL2020!” said the team in a short post on its Facebook page.
“We’re going all out for our first ever Philippines Football League title!” it added.
In the fourth season of the PFL, originally scheduled to start in March but is now being angled to push through sometime in October, Kaya will be part of the six-team field, along with United City Football Club (formerly Ceres-Negros FC), Stallion Laguna FC, Mendiola FC 1991, Azkals Development Team, and new entrant Maharlika Football Club.
It is currently training in the Philippine Football Federation Training Center in Carmona, Cavite, the designated area for such as included in the protocols agreed upon by the league and the government as part of mitigating measures against the spread of the coronavirus.
Kaya has been part of the PFL since the start but has yet to win the league title. It, however, won the Copa Paulino Alcantara title back in 2018.
The club competed in the last two editions of the AFC Cup.
In this year’s edition of the regional tournament, Kaya was running second in Group H with 1-2-0 record and five points, two behind group leader Tampines Rovers FC (2-1-0) of Singapore.
It last played against PSM Makassar of Indonesia in Jakarta on March 10 where it settled for a 1-1 draw.
Kaya was scheduled to play PSM Makassar and Shan United FC of Myanmar on Sept. 23 and 26, respectively, until organizers decided to cancel.
“In view of the logistics in coordinating the five zones of the AFC Cup and completing the Inter Zone matches, the AFC Executive Committee also agreed that the pandemic created complexities which constituted a Force Majeure event and, with sadness, led to the cancellation of the 2020 competition,” the AFC said in its decision.
Apart from Kaya, also in the tournament was Ceres, the place of which was to be taken over by UCFC.
Before the cancellation, Ceres was on top of Group G with seven points built on a 2-1-0 record. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo