WITH only eight days before its first match in the 2020 AFC Cup, Kaya FC Iloilo has left fans on the edge of their seats.
As of this writing, the Philippine club has already released five players as well as its decorated coach in the last couple of months.
Ghanaian forward Jordan Mintah joined Malaysian top-flight club Terengganu FC, while midfielder Arnie Pasinabo returned to Ceres Negros FC last December.
Goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma, Trinidad and Tobago striker Darryl Roberts and midfielder Yannick Tuason followed suit and left the club last month.
Kaya FC also has yet to identify a replacement for head coach Noel Marcaida, whose contract with the club has ended.
Since joining the club in 2017, Marcaida steered Kaya to the inaugural Copa Paulino Alcantara title in 2018 and as runners up the following year.
Marcaida also led the club to two runners up finishes in the last two seasons of the Philippines Football League.
In sum, Kaya is a club on the rise, second only to three-time PFL champions Ceres Negros FC.
But as the continental club competition AFC Cup nears, fans are left guessing what Kaya FC has in store for them.
The club particularly needs new signings to replenish their lineup to stand a chance against tough foreign adversaries.
Kaya will kick off its AFC Cup campaign in Group H against Myanmar National League champions Shan United on Feb. 12 in Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon.
It will then face Singapore Premier League runners up Tampines Rovers FC on Feb. 26 and Indonesian Lia 1 side PSM Makassar on March 10, both at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
The Group Stage will be played with a home-and-away round robin format. The match venues have yet to be announced, though.
While Ceres has represented the Philippines valiantly in AFC competitions, having Kaya perform as well in the international scene will be most welcome to Filipino football fans.
Perhaps Kaya FC will spring a surprise with its 2020 roster, a pleasant one I hope.
February 03, 2020
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