WHILE top spot in Group H is no longer attainable, Kaya FC-Iloilo still has a shot at qualifying to the AFC Cup’s ASEAN Zone semi-finals by securing the best second place position among the three ASEAN groups.
Progress to the next round, however, will require favorable results from the other matches, and more importantly, victory against Singapore’s Home United on Tuesday night, 8:30 p.m., at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
“All the players are excited for the game tomorrow,” said Kaya head coach Noel Marcaida.
“We are really looking forward to hopefully continuing our campaign in the AFC Cup. But we have to set our priority. If we want to continue our campaign, my players have to perform 100% tomorrow. Whether we qualify or not, if tomorrow is our best performance, then that can be a moment to remember for a lifetime.”
With eight points after five outings, a win over the reigning ASEAN Zone Champions on Tuesday would propel Iloilo to the best points total of any other second-placed club in the South East Asian region. But with Vietnamese clubs Hanoi (Group F) and Becamex Binh Duong (Group G) each with 10 points, and with a game still to play, Kaya needs both clubs to drop points in order to progress to the next round.
“I’m looking forward to it. We know the significance of the game. We need three points, it’s really important. After that, it’s out of our hands really. But we know it’s a really big game, and we know we need to perform,” said Connor Tacagni, who recently scored his first AFC Cup goal.
Although Kaya will be brimming with confidence, having already defeated Home United, 5-0, in their clash in the Philippines earlier this year, Noel Marcaida isn’t getting carried away.
“Tomorrow is a different game. Whatever result that happened in our last game is irrelevant. We can’t just say that we’ll repeat it. But if the opportunity is presented to us, then we’ll take it,” he said.
Tuesday night’s AFC Cup match will be aired live on 5Plus, and streamed over ESPN5’s online platforms.