Kaya Iloilo nears Champions League berth after Chinese club withdrawal

The Copa Paulino Alcantara champions are one win away from a main draw qualification in the AFC Champions League (PFL photo)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Kaya FC-Iloilo will only be needing one win to secure its 2022 AFC Champions League main draw ticket after the withdrawal of Chinese football club Changchun Yatai.

Supposedly, the winner between Kaya FC and the Australian club Sydney FC will face Changchun FC in the next round before earning an outright seat in the Champions League main draw.

However, due to the Chinese Club’s forfeiture in the prestigious football tournament, the winner between Kaya and Sydney FC will no longer need to compete in another group stage match and will enjoy an automatic advancement to the tournament proper.

“Therefore, in accordance with the AFC Champions League 2022 Competition Regulations, the Playoff Stage match between Changchun Yatai FC and the winners of the Preliminary Stage tie between Australia’s Sydney FC and Kaya FC-Iloilo from the Philippines, which was scheduled to take place on March 15, 2022, has been cancelled,” read the Asian Football Confederation’s statement.

Up to this date, the Changchun FC management has yet to provide the main reason regarding their withdrawal from the grand league.

If Kaya FC wins their upcoming clash against Sydney FC, they will be placed in Group H of the main draw and will compete against Jeonbuk Motors from Korea Republic, Yokohama F. Marinos of Japan, and Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai.

The Iloilo-backed football club will still have the chance to advance to the main draw if they lose against Sydney FC if they sweep their matches in the group stages against Bali United, Kedah Darul Aman, and a Cambodian club.