Villaflor: Ceres, Kaya need strong start

PINOY football fans will be in for a back-to-back treat as the two top sides of the Philippines Football League kick off their AFC Cup campaigns.

Tonight, Feb. 11, it will be champion against champion in Group G when Ceres Negros Football Club faces Cambodian side Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC at 7:30 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.

Kaya FC Iloilo will have its turn in the international limelight on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m. when it goes up against Myanmar champions Shan United in Yangon.

Tomorrow’s Group H encounter at the Thuwanna YTC Stadium will be a huge challenge for Kaya FC as it introduces seven new personnel on the field including coaching staff.

To replace recent departures, the Lions have signed up forwards Daizo Horikoshi, Takumi Uesato and Roberto Corsame Jr., to boost its attack, while adding center backs Carlyle Mitchell and Marco Casambre to bolster the back four.

Plotting Kaya’s strategy are new goalkeeping coach Rolando Cabañiero Jr. and head coach Oliver “Bingbing” Colina.

With Kaya’s fresh additions against a solid Myanmar side, an away win at this early stage would be crucial.

Waiting for Kaya FC in Group H are Tampines Rovers of Singapore on Feb. 26 and erstwhile tormentors PSM Makassar of Indonesia on March 3.

To recall, Kaya was grouped with PSM in the 2019 AFC Cup, drawing its away match but losing the return match at Panaad.

PSM eventually topped the group while Kaya crashed out of contention.

Ceres, meanwhile, is poised to defeat Svay Rieng tonight, as well as Vietnam’s Than Quang Ninh on Feb. 25 and Indonesia’s Bali United on March 11.

The Busmen’s impressive run in the recent Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League preliminaries and playoff make them Group G favorites in the AFC Cup.

Last season, Ceres topped its group but lost in the Zonal semi-finals to another Vietnamese side Hanoi FC.

Hopefully learning from last season’s mistakes, both Ceres FC and Kaya FC need no less than opening wins to make a strong statement in the 2020 AFC Cup.


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