A fantastic strike from skipper Jovin Bedic at the 47th minute did not have the desired effect as Kaya-Iloilo fell 2-1 to South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai in the 2021 AFC Champions League, Monday evening at the Pathum Thani Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
The result marked Kaya’s fourth consecutive loss in the tournament, which leaves the Filipino side bottom of Group F with zero points.
On the other hand, Ulsan Hyundai, the tournament’s defending champions, now have 12 points after as many matches.
“Overall, we’re actually pretty disappointed. Before the red card, we were defending and trying to keep our discipline. Once the red card came, there was an opportunity for us to play a little bit more expansive which is great for the boys to experience,” said Kaya coach Graham Harvey.
Down a goal at the break but with 11 players on the pitch compared to Ulsan Hyundai’s 10 in the second half, Bedic capitalized on a Ryo Fujii assist to draw level from a narrow angle against goalkeeper Jo Suhuk.
Unfortunately, the Filipino club’s lead did not last long as midfielder Yoon Bit-garam found himself unmarked in the Kaya box and unleashed a wonderful shot to beat debutant stopper Zach Banzon.
Substitute forward Jhan-Jhan Melliza came up with a Hail Mary attempt way outside the Ulsan Hyundai box in stoppage time, only for it to go straight to Sukuk, who then secured the ball and the victory for the two-time South Korean champions.
In the first half, Ulsan Hyundai was immediately on the front foot similar to when both sides faced each other three days ago.
Banzon was shaky from the start but he managed to hold his own with the help of his backline. It took an unfortunate deflection from Lukas Hinterseer to break the deadlock at the 27th minute.
The game changed for Kaya at the 31st minute when Ulsan Hyundai was down to 10 men. Kim Minjun was given his marching orders after he high-booted defender Marco Casambre, who recovered after receiving treatment. However, Harvey’s men failed to break down the K League 1 side who proved to be too disciplined in the end.
“That opportunity to learn in these big moments will stand us in good stead when we go back to the PFL. It will stand us in good stead for the next two games, to show that since we’ve been here, we’re competitive. We’ll make sure that in all the games we’re in, we’re hard to beat,” furthered Harvey.
Next up for Kaya is BG Pathum United on Thursday at 6:00 PM (Manila time).
Ulsan Hyundai XI: Jo Suhuk (GK), Bae Jaewoo, Park Yongwoo, Kim Insung, Yoon Bitgaram, Kim Minjun, Kim Taehyeon, Shin Hyungmin ©, Lukas Hinterseer, Lee Myung Jae, Lim Jong Eun.
Kaya XI: Banzon (GK), Omura, Bedic ©, Daniels, Fujii, Casambre, Mitchell, Horikoshi, De Bruycker, Rota, Menzi.