By Adrian Stewart Co
Ilonggo forward Jesus Melliza and midfielder Fitch Arboleda ended their stint with Stallion Laguna Football Club ahead of the start of the 2021 Philippines Football League season.
Stallion Laguna head coach Ernest Nierras confirmed the exit of Melliza and Arboleda as he said that they will be playing in Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup later this year.
“They will be playing in the AFC Cup this season. We wish them all the luck as they face new challenges in 2021,” Nierras said. “We would also like to thank both of them for giving everything to our club for the past few years.”
While Nierras did not mention to which team the two are headed, there were reports that Melliza and Arboleda are set to sign with Kaya Futbol Club-Iloilo, which will play for a spot in the 2021 AFC Champions League.
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.
La Paz, Iloilo City-native Melliza has been with Stallion Laguna since 2017. Prior to that, the former Far Eastern University Tamaraws standout played for Green Archers United FC.
Romblon-native Arboleda, a former player of the University of the East, has been with Stallion Laguna since 2012 and was part of the squad that won a championship the United Football League in 2013./ASC, WDJ