On the eve of the club’s biggest fixture yet in its history, the personnel of Kaya-Iloilo projected an image of calmness despite the huge ramifications involved when they take on Chinese Super League team Shanghai Port on Wednesday in the play-off round of the 2021 AFC Champions League.
“I think we’re one big family, one big club. In the Philippines, obviously a massive club, so I’ve been delighted by how the boys have responded to me as a coach. Coach Yu Hoshide as well has done an excellent job to prepare the boys for this stage… I think we’re in a good spot to perform to the best of our abilities,” said newly-installed mentor Graham Harvey.
“Coach Hoshi and I have been working very closely together to make sure that our game plan for tomorrow against Shanghai is effective. Our philosophy is to make sure that we entertain. We’re excited, as Jovin said, to be here as a team. This is our first opportunity to play in the Champions League and we want to entertain our fans.”
A win for the Philippines Football League squad enables it to enter Group F of the 2021 AFC Champions League, which consists of current Thai League 1 champion BG Pathum United, Vietnamese champions Viettel, and South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai.
A loss, though, relegates Kaya to the 2021 AFC Cup group stages.
“Yes, of course, we’re very excited to qualify from this round but, of course, the biggest task is tomorrow against Shanghai. We’re just really excited for tomorrow. We prepared for this and we don’t really care about anyone who’s playing for Shanghai or whoever this guy is, we’re just really excited for tomorrow,” said striker Jovin Bedic.
“The pressure is on our side because, on paper, Shanghai is the stronger team here but it doesn’t really matter. Tomorrow is a big challenge for us. All of us are ready to play. We’re very hungry for that win tomorrow.”
If Kaya pulls off the victory, it will be the second Filipino club to enter Asia’s biggest club competition this season with Philippine champions United City Football Club securing passage to the group stage already by virtue of winning the 2020 PFL title.
However, everything on Wednesday will be about the coaches and players doing all that they can to make the club and its fans proud.
“For us, it’s about making sure that we do our fans justice. We’ve been in existence for 25 years and as I said this is our first opportunity to show Asia what we could do. We’re here to entertain,” said Harvey.
“We’re here to make sure that we do our very best. Our team is organized and effective when we don’t have the ball and when we do have the ball, we have to make sure that we attack and we attack well.”