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Kaya-Iloilo braces for AFCCL play-off versus Sydney


After a memorable campaign last year in Asia’s biggest club competition, Kaya-Iloilo is very eager to return to the big stage.

Standing in their way is A-League side Sydney as both teams are set to face-off in the preliminary round of the 2022 AFC Champions League at the Jubilee Oval stadium.

“We’re expecting to be very organized,” said returning Kaya mentor Graham Harvey. “We know we’re facing one of the best sides in Australian football. We know that they’re experienced at this level… They’ve had multiple years of experience in the group stage.

“We know we’re up against a very good and strong side but we feel as if we’ve done our preparation and we’re very motivated.”

Sydney had a successful campaign last season but failed to cross the finish line to convert it into a glorious one. Coach Steve Corica’s men finished second place in the league standings with 47 points – just behind Melbourne City Football Club’s 49 points.

Both sides then faced each other in the 2021 A-League Grand Final, which saw Melbourne City emerge victorious with a 3-1 scoreline.

“If you just take the A-League standalone, probably Sydney by their own very high standards are not achieving as highly as they have previously but when you look through their squad, I’d say the coach there, Steve, has probably some great options to rotate and make sure he picks a really strong side,” said Harvey.

“We know we’re up against, like I said, one of the strongest sides, obviously multiple A-League titles under their belt but we’ve done our homework. We obviously got some coaching staff (members) that have worked through Australia as well so we do follow the A-League very closely,” added the 38-year-old.

“We’ve been able to get ourselves footage of what we need so we’re very, very confident with our plan but we’re also very respectful to who Sydney is.”

This is the first time since clubs from the Philippines and Australia are facing each other in the AFC Champions League since 2018, which was when Ceres-Negros memorably upset Brisbane Roar 3-2 at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre behind a brace from Azkals star Bienvenido Maranon.

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While Harvey hopes for the same outcome this time around, he admits that the task ahead of Kaya is a difficult one.

“That was an amazing achievement for a Filipino side there but we just have to make sure that we focus on what Sydney can do and how we can counter that to make sure we can give the best account of ourselves,” said the Watford-born mentor.

Kaya takes on Sydney tomorrow 4:30 PM Manila time, and a victory will allow the club to join the likes of South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos, and Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai in Group H, which shall be hosted in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thống Nhất Stadium.

Written By

Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces


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