Kaya-Iloilo have moved one step closer to joining reigning Philippines Football League champions United City in the group stage of the 2021 AFC Champions League.
The Asian Football Confederation announced on Sunday morning that after the exit of Australian clubs from the biggest club football competition in Asia, Kaya will now only have one elimination match to hurdle if they want to move into the tournament proper.
It will face China’s Shanghai Port.
The 2020 PFL runners-up would have faced Brisbane Roar. The Australian federation, though, had to pull out their teams from the continental tournament due to health and safety concerns.
“Following Football Australia’s confirmation of the withdrawal of its clubs from the AFC Champions League (East), the AFC COVID-19 Sub-Committee for AFC Champions League and AFC Cup 2021 (East) has decided the final line-up of clubs for the AFC Champions League 2021 Group and Playoff Stages,” read the statement.
“The Sub-Committee approved the cancellation of the preliminary stage match between Brisbane Roar and Kaya FC-Iloilo from the Philippines, who will move one step closer towards making their Group Stage debut but will need to first defeat China PR’s Shanghai Port FC in the Playoff Stage to secure the final spot in Group F.”
With this, a win against Shanghai Port will enable the LBC-backed club to face the likes of Thailand’s BG Pathum United, South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai and Vietnam’s Viettel Football Club.
The match between Kaya and Shanghai Port is penciled to take place on June 23 at the Suphan Buri Provincial Stadium in Suphan Buri, Thailand.
If the Filipino club gets past that stage, it will then face Pathum United to open its AFC Champions League campaign a few days later.