Philippines Football League side Kaya FC-Iloilo secured a memorable 1-0 win over Shanghai Port FC last night 23 June 2021 at the Pathum Thani Stadium, to book their place to the AFC Champions League group stages.
Audie Menzie’s 16th minute header lifted Kaya to Group F of the competition where they will meet defending AFC Champions League winners Ulsan Hyundai, Thai League 1 champions BG Pathum United, and V.League 1 champions Viettel FC.
“To be able to last 90 minutes, everybody worked hard for their effort,” said Kaya head coach Graham Harvey. “It was an amazing achievement for everyone in the club.”
Kaya started the match on the front foot. New signing Ryo Fujii made his presence felt in the seventh minute, but could only steer his shot off target. Captain Jovin Bedic also came close six minutes later, but was denied by the post.
Their efforts paid off when Menzi jumped highest to head in Daizo Horikoshi’s corner to put Kaya ahead inside the first 16 minutes of the match.
A goal ahead, Kaya looked to add a second goal in the opening minutes of the second half but Bedic’s effort sailed over the post.
Shanghai Port almost forced a deadlock in the latter stages of the match, but the Kaya defense, led by goalkeeper Louie Casas held firm to preserve the victory and with it a spot to the group stages.
With a group stage slot secured, Harvey looks forward to battling the best teams in the continent.
“We are now on the biggest stage in Asia, when we play some of the biggest clubs,” added Harvey. “The boys have already begun to focus on the next six games. We will celebrate and enjoy this win but we’ll make sure to be focused for the next matches.”
Kaya will face BG Pathum United on Saturday, 26 June 2021 to begin their group stage campaign.
Photo from AFC