Daily Tribune (Philippines)

Newcomers boost Kaya’s bid

- BY IAN SUYU @tribunephl_ian

A handful of Kaya Iloilo FC newcomers are determined to prove their worth as the club kicks off its season in the preliminar­y round of the AFC Champions League.

Kaya head coach Graham Harvey said young guns Sandro Reyes, Jarvey Gayoso, Mar Diano, Oskari Kekkoken and Jesse Curran are expected to boost the team’s campaign and improve their chances to make a return trip in the prestigiou­s continenta­l club tourney set in Vietnam in April.

After all, a win against Australian powerhouse Sydney FC at press time will assure them a slot in Group F alongside South Korean club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Japanese powerhouse Yokohama F Marinos and Vietnamese side Hoang Anh Gia Lia.

“We brought over three to four boys from the Azkals developmen­t side, I guess it’s a testament of how well they’ve developed here in Manila,” Graham said.

“Jesse is also adjusting well with his position. To attract players like Jesse is really a big step forward.”

Coming off a Copa Paulino Alcantara title run in November, the Iloilo-based squad suffered a major blow as three of its key players Dylan de Bruycker, Marwin Angeles and Marco Casambre signed with other clubs abroad, while veteran goalie Louie Casas announced his retirement in the pro ranks.

Kaya, however, was quick to rebuild its roster after injecting younger players like Reyes, Gayoso, Diano and Kekkoken from the Azkals Developmen­t team.

The squad also secured the services of the 25-year-old Curran, who has been a long-time prospect of the national team and spent several years with top-tier Scottish club Dundee FC and Thai clubs Muangthong United, Nakhon Ratchasima and Udon Thani FC.

Kaya also tapped foreign striker Robert Lopez Mendy, who already saw action with the club back in 2016.

Now enjoying a deeper and lethal lineup, Kaya is eyeing stronger performanc­e when it defends its crown in the 2022 Copa edition in March and the much-awaited Philippine­s Football League resumption later this year.

 ?? PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF KAYA FC ?? OSKARI Kekkoken (left) is one of the young additions of Kaya Iloilo FC.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF KAYA FC OSKARI Kekkoken (left) is one of the young additions of Kaya Iloilo FC.

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