WITH ITS place in the next round of the 2019 AFC Cup still in the balance, Kaya FC-Iloilo tries to give its bid a boost with a victory in its final game in group play today against Home United FC in Singapore.
One of three teams still in the mix to advance to the AZEAN Zonal semifinals of the tournament as the best runner-up, Kaya is eyeing a key win at the Jalan Besar Stadium in its scheduled 8:30 p.m. match.
A victory secures for Kaya the second seed in Group H and 11 points to keep in step with two other hopefuls.
However, victories by either, or both, Hanoi FC and Becamex Binh Duong of Vietnam in Groups F and G, respectively, in their final matches outright eliminate Kaya.
Hanoi and Becamex are currently ahead of Kaya in the best runner-up race with 10 points each.
Hanoi plays Group F leader Tampines Rovers of Singapore while Becamex takes on Group G top team Ceres-Negros FC on May 15.
Kaya enters today’s important match off a 5-1 shellacking of also-ran Lao Toyota FC of Laos at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City on April 30.
The game saw Ghanaian forward Jordan Mintah finally find his groove, finishing with a hat trick to help his team to the victory.
Erstwhile struggling Mintah got the scoring going for Kaya in the 11th minute when the Ghanaian poked a shot past the Lao goalkeeper for the 1-0 lead.
Just as the opening half drew to a close, Kaya doubled its lead care of midfielder Connor Tacagni, who nodded a goal in the 40th minute.
In the second half, Lao got buried deeper when Mr. Mintah scored his second goal in the 66th minute.
The visiting side scrambled to stay in the game, managing to squeak in a goal in the 70th minute from forward Kazuo Homma.
But that was the closest Lao could get as Kaya put its foot down and went on a strong finish, punctuated by goals from Yannick Tuason (86’) and Mr. Mintah (89’) to complete the impressive victory.
After, the Kaya think tank lauded the team’s solid showing from start to finish, something they hope to duplicate in today’s contest.
“I’m so happy for my boys. That was hard work from start to finish. In general, we played really well today,” said Kaya coach Noel Marcaida of the performance they showed against Lao. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo