February 22, 2016
Kaya v Kitchee, February 23 (Tuesday), 7:45pm, Mongkok Stadium, Hong Kong
Photo courtesy of Kaya Football Club
February 22, 2016 – Manila
Kaya FC is all set to begin its maiden campaign in the AFC Cup, marking the highest level of competition the club has experienced in its almost 20-year history. On Tuesday, February 23 at 7:45pm, the journey starts with a baptism of fire against Hong Kong giants and recent AFC Cup quarter finalists, Kitchee.
After winning the UFL Cup last season, Kaya became one of two Filipino teams that qualified to play in the highly acclaimed Asian club tournament in 2016.
“It’s a tremendous honor for us to be representing the Philippines in regional competition”, said coach Chris Greatwich. “I think largely we’ve underachieved in domestic competition. Last season, in the [UFL] Cup, we put our best foot forward. I think we put in some really good displays. And I think we’re well worthy of representing the UFL in the competition.”
Over the course of the next few months, Kaya will play in six AFC Cup group games, with three of the matches hosted in Manila City’s Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Placed in Group F, Kaya will play home and away against Hong Kong’s Kitchee, Maldives’ New Radiant, and Singapore’s Balestier Khalsa.
Although warmly received by Filipinos based in Hong Kong, Kaya is expecting a challenging atmosphere against a seasoned AFC Cup outfit on Tuesday night.
“Kitchee, obviously on paper will be the favorites to qualify. [They’re] experienced at this level, [and they have a] number of their players in the national team set up with Hong Kong,” Greatwich explained.
Well aware of the step up in competition, the first-year coach and former Philippine National Team star is excited by the prospect of delivering an unexpected blow to the home side.
“What better way to start our campaign than to go into the lion’s den and play them at their home field [in our] first game. I think the boys are excited and will embrace the challenge,” he said. “If we’re well prepared and we go into the game with confidence, I don’t see why we can’t, on the day, produce what some people may see as a shock.”
Kaya’s AFC Cup opener will be aired LIVE on Fox Sports and Fox Sports HD, with a delayed telecast to be broadcasted on ABS CBN Sports + Action the following day.
About Kaya FC:
Established in 1996, Kaya Football Club has been home to some of the Philippines’ brightest footballing talents for the last two decades. Known in its first 10 years as a disrupting force to the dominance of Armed Forces teams, the club has since developed into one of the top football organizations in the Philippines. Popular for its loyal fan base of vocal supporters, and a track record of producing and nurturing exceptional talents, the club has added AFC Cup qualification to its list of achievements. In 2015, the club was crowned the UFL Cup champion, resulting in passage into Asia’s prestigious club tournament.