Why the ‘Last Filipino’ Kaya FC’s trip to Incheon was so special

Why the ‘Last Filipino’ Kaya FC’s trip to Incheon was so special

The past three days have been historic for Incheon United. The club won its first AFC Champions League (ACL) group stage match at home. Their opponents were Kaya FC, the champions of the Philippine First Division.
In fact, they have a very special story to tell. With the ACL set to be reorganized next year, Filipino clubs will be effectively eliminated from the competition. Instead, they will be granted a spot in the ACL’s second-tier league, the AFC Cup (to be renamed the ACL Elite League).

The following is the full interview I conducted with some of the players of Kaya FC at a hotel in Songdo, Incheon, on April 4.

  • It wasn’t an easy game for you guys. Can you give us an overview of the match?
    Peach: “It was a difficult game because we already knew the level of Korean soccer, but I think it reminded us that we had to work harder than usual on the pitch. I was particularly impressed with the speed of Incheon’s #27, Kim Bo-seop, and Kang Yoon-gu, who often competed with me, was also an outstanding player.”

Zanjan: “The ACL is the highest stage for our players. It wasn’t easy, all the players from Incheon did really well, but I think the center backs were particularly impressive.”

  • This is your first time playing in the ACL group stage in South Korea. What are your impressions?
    Eric: “I visited Korea in 2009 and I still remember the high level of football and the passionate fans I experienced. In fact, I was heavily influenced by a Korean coach growing up, so it was always a dream of mine to play in Korea, and I was really happy to be able to compete against a Korean team in this way. I would love to play here again in the future if I get the chance.”

Nano: “My first impression of Korea was fantastic, especially the stadium in Incheon, I think it’s really cool. In fact, I learned a lot from Korean coaches, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my coach Kang Hee-gyu, who took the 메이저놀이터 best care of me on and off the field during my childhood.”

  • It’s interesting that you’ve been so influenced by a Korean coach, can you be more specific?
    Odhi: “Actually, a lot of the players on our team were influenced by Korean coaches, and I have a lot of memories with Coach Kang, who Nano mentioned, and he explained to me what kind of mentality Korean players have, and he really motivated me when I was out of the game, and that experience is really helping me now that I’m playing professionally.”
  • Kaya FC won the Philippine first division last season. Was there a special recipe for success?
    Odie: “I think everyone on the team gave it their all because they wanted to relive their memories of playing in the ACL for the first time. It’s a natural goal for any Asian professional team player to want to play in the ACL, which is the top tier. To give you a little bit about our team, we won one league title, the UFL Cup, and two Copa Alcantara Cups.

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