By Adrian Stewart Co
Kaya-Futbol Club Iloilo will have two must-win matches this April in hopes of earning a seat into the ASEAN zonal group stage of the 2021 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League slated from June 22 to 28.
The Iloilo City-based football club is scheduled to face Australia’s Brisbane Roar in the preliminary round of the AFC Champions League on April 7 with the winner facing Beijing FC in a playoff for a spot in the group stage on April 14.
Should the club pull off two consecutive upsets against the Aussie and Chinese side, they will compete in Group F of the AFC Champions League group stage against Thailand’s BG Pathum United FC, South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai, and Vietnam’s Viettel.
But, if Kaya-Iloilo drops either of the two matches, they will be relegated to the second tier 2021 AFC Cup for the second straight year and will battle either Shan United FC or Ayeyawady United FC from Myanmar, Terengganu FC from Malaysia, and Geylang International FC from Singapore.
“Really interesting group and excited to play AFC Cup again,” said Kaya-Iloilo head coach Yu Hoshide. “Burmese and Singaporean clubs are familiar for us but we don’t know a lot about Malaysians, which will make it a nice experience too. Preparation will be the key to winning, so we will try our best to push for the title.”
Unlike Kaya-Iloilo, four-time defending Philippines Football League (PFL) champion United City Football Club is automatically playing in the 2021 AFC Champions League for ruling the 2020 edition of PFL.
United City FC was placed in Group I against China’s Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, current three-time Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale, and either South Korea’s Daegu FC or Thailand’s Chiangrai United.
The 2021 AFC Champions League group stage shall follow a double-round robin format and will be played in a centralized venue that is yet to be determined, same with the 2021 AFC Cup group stage./ASC, WDJ