Kaya FC Iloilo shoots for a slot in the 2021 AFC Champions League when it collides with Shanghai Port FC in the playoff round on Wednesday in Bangkok.
Action starts at 10 p.m. (Manila time) with the Philippine Football League (PFL) powerhouse looking to punch a ticket to the most prestigious showpiece in Asia.
After finally returning to continental action after more than a year, newly-appointed head coach Graham Harvey said Kaya FC is all pumped up and ready to face the powerful Chinese club.
“We’ll try to prepare as much as we can for whatever this Shanghai team will throw at us,” the 60-year-old Scottish mentor said.
Actually, Kaya FC was supposed to clash with Brisbane Roar of Australia on 20 June in the preliminary round.
But with the Australian side pulling out due to health and safety concerns, Kaya FC was given a free pass to the next round, setting the stage for its collision with the champion of the Chinese Super League in 2019.
If ever the Filipino squad pulls off a shocking win over Shanghai Port FC, it would be part of Group F in the Champions League together with Thai League supremo BG Pathum United, Korean League titlist Ulsan Hyundai and Vietnamese powerhouse Viettel FC.
Harvey said they will show up prepared as they held rigid training under a bubble setup in Manila and Batangas despite the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
They will also parade a loaded roster that features former collegiate standout Jarvey Gayoso, midfielders Fitch Arboleda and Jhan Meliza and reinforcements Patrick Asare of Ghana and Ryo Fujii of Japan.
Still, it will not be an easy match for the Filipinos as the Chinese squad will deploy a lethal attacking troika of Brazilian stars Oscar and Ricardo Lopez as well as Australian forward Marko Arnautovic.
“I think the boys did really well in our training. They listened to what coach Hoshi (Yu Hoshide) asked them to do with the ball,” Harvey said.
“We’re really looking forward to getting some ideas on how we are going to play without the ball so that we can make sure that the boys are nice and organized.”