Filipino club Kaya FC-Iloilo is looking to book their return into the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League as they face Australian side Sydney FC in the preliminary round of the competition at the Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on March 8.

After snatching their second title in the Copa Paulino Alcantara late last year, Kaya now has their eyes set on starting their campaign this year with a win against Sydney, who are now seated at the sixth spot of the Australian League standings and is fresh off a 2-0 loss to rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.

According to coach Graham Harvey, who rejoined the club in Australia three days prior to their return to the premier continental club football tournament, he is expecting a tough match against their Australian foes but stressed that Kaya will be organized and motivated come match day.

“We are expecting to be very organized. We know we are facing one of the best sides in Australian Football,” Harvey said during the pre-match press conference in Sydney on March 7.

“Obviously, barring last year with the break due to COVID they’ve had multiple years of experience in the group stage so we know we are up against a very good strong side but we’ve done our preparation and we are very motivated,” he added.

The club from Iloilo is looking for redemption following their unlucky performance in the last edition of the Champions League, which saw their squad falling into six straight losses in a group that featured Thailand’s BG Pathum United, Vietnam’s Viettel FC and eventual semifinalists Ulsan Hyundai FC from South Korea.

Meanwhile, Kaya FC reinforced their line-up in their preparations during the off-season marked by the return of Senegalese striker Robert Lopez Mendy and the addition of former Scottish Premiership side Dundee FC midfielder Jesse Curran.

Mendy was a vital part of Kaya’s success in their first title in the Copa Paulino Alcantara but left the club in 2018 play for UiTM FC of Malaysia, former Philippine club football big guns Ceres Negros FC, and Cambodian club Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC.

On the other hand, Curran, who has Filipino heritage on his mother’s side, has played for several clubs in Scotland after his departure from Dundee before testing the waters in the Thai Premier League with Muangthong United FC.

Aside from the addition of Lopez Mendy and Curran, Kaya also snatched several up-and-coming local stars Jarvey Gayoso, Oskari Kekkonen, Sandro Reyes, and Mar Diano from the Azkals Development Team.

Photo from Kaya FC-Iloilo Facebook Page