Philippine football has made huge strides in these past few years after the miracle run by the Azkals in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. One of the tangible signs of progress for Philippine football has been having its clubs compete in a continental tournament. Come tomorrow, March 7, 2016 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, Kaya Football Club will continue their 2016 Asian Football Confederation Cup against New Radiant Sports Club of Maldives.
It is Kaya’s second outing in the 2016 AFC Cup. Kaya’s first match against Kitchee Sports Club would have ended in a respectable draw if not for a penalty converted by forward Rufino Segovia. Nonetheless, it was a valiant effort by the club in their first ever international match.
For Kaya coach Joel Villarino, tomorrow’s match is all about sticking to the game plan. Villarino hinted that Kaya will play through the counterattack. “We’ll just adjust tomorrow with our transition in defense and attack”, he said.
The Panaad Stadium hosted Ceres-La Salle’s home game against Selangor and the atmosphere was fantastic. Kaya attacking midfielder OJ Porteria hopes that the same support will be on show tomorrow. Porteria added, “It’s our home game so we have to perform to the best of our abilities. I think we had a great match in Hong Kong and I think we’re just gonna use that momentum against New Radiant and hopefully we’ll get the win.”
New Radiant head coach Iordan Ivanov Stoykov proclaimed Kaya as one of the favorites in their group. Villarino laughed it off and said he still wasn’t sure about the proclamation. “We’ll know by tomorrow.” On the other hand, Porteria feels that his team is confident but will be respectful towards the other teams in their group. Porteria said, “There’s no game in the AFC that’s gonna be easy for us so we’re gonna approach it like every other game.”
There is still a long way to go for Kaya in the group stages. There are four more matches to be played after tomorrow. It’s a matter of vindicating the Philippines’ place in the Asian club football scene. Porteria declared, “Like what coach said, we’ll see tomorrow and see in the next games. We have to prove ourselves.”