Photo courtesy of Kaya FC: OJ Porteria addresses the media
Kaya FC is all set for their first ever AFC Cup home game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, with kickoff against the Maldives’ New Radiant scheduled at 7:30pm tomorrow (March 8). Despite being debutants in the competition, the Philippine side is not being taken lightly in the tournament, with the opposition going as far as to label Kaya the favorites in Group F.
“I’m thinking that Kaya is the best team in the group. Others will just be fighting for second place,” said Iordan Stoykov, New Radiant head coach. “I think we have to show our best efforts to resist them and to achieve the acceptable result.”
Despite suffering defeat at the hands of Kitchee in their first AFC Cup outing, Kaya showed their ability to compete on the regional stage. Whether the notion of being front runners is shared by the members of the club, however, will be dictated by how the team does on Tuesday, and in the home game against Balestier Khalsa next week.
“I’m not sure yet,” said coach Joel Villarino on being labeled favorites. “If we win tomorrow, maybe it’s true,” he added with a smile.
OJ Porteria took a similar stance, opting to allow the results to do the talking.
“I have confidence in our team, in our coaching staff, and our management. But just like coach said, we will see tomorrow and in the next games. We need to prove ourselves. We can’t just listen to what he said.”
“I think we’re very confident, but we also have respect for each and everyone in our group,” said the midfielder. “There’s no game in the AFC that will be easy for us, so we will approach it like every other game. Just like [we did with] Kitchee, we will approach New Radiant and Balestier [the same way] as well.
Porteria is also looking forward to a change in scenery after enduring a fiery atmosphere in Hong Kong against Kitchee.
“The support of the Philippine fans [will be the biggest difference],” said OJ. “It’s our home game so we have to perform to the best of our abilities. I think we had a great match in Hong Kong and we’re just going to use that momentum against New Radiant and hopefully we’ll get the win.”
According to coach Joel, the tempo of the match will be a major component to deciding the outcome.
“The key factor is speed,” said coach Villarino. ” I think we will just stick to the plan. What happened there in Hong Kong was a good game. We will adjust a little more in our transitions from defense to attack and vice versa, and our speed.”
Tomorrow’s game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium will be aired LIVE on ABS CBN Sports+Action, with kickoff between Kaya FC and New Radiant scheduled at 7:30pm.