With over a month remaining before their opening match in the AFC Cup, Kaya FC-Iloilo has been sweating out since the new year in their training sessions, making sure that they pick up where they left off when they won the inaugural Copa Paulino Alcantara.
Emphasizing on the coordination, communication and familiarity amongst the team, coach Noel Marcaida’s slowly getting everyone in their groove as they focus on the quick passing and shape retention of the squad. Despite not playing a single minute in the AFC Asian Cup, Kaya FC first-choice goalkeeper Ace Villanueva keeps to show his cat-like reflexes and exquisite distribution skills.
Also, new signing Louis Michael Casas has been put into a good round of training and sweat-inducing drills by Ref Quaresma who’s assumed the goalkeeping coach position after he announced his retirement.
Another developing story around Kaya is the hunt for Miguel Tanton’s replacement, a shoe that is so huge to fill in, is still ongoing. As confirmed by Ceres-Negros FC, they’ve signed the prolific free kick taker and a mastermind in the midfield.
Despite his departure, Marcaida is still on high hopes that someone from the current set of players that he has will step up to the plate and fill in the big spot that Tanton left in the club. “I think, malaking bagay kung nandito pa rin si Tanton, as you can see siya yung free kick specialist natin.” said by Marcaida.
He then continued by saying, ” May mga players din tayo who can do the job. It’s a matter of giving them the responsibility and these players grabbing or embracing the opportunity to work on the area that Miguel Tanton will not be serving with us.
When asked about the possible replacements for the prolific midfielder, coach Marcaida pointed out some household names who, he thinks, can do the job for the club. ” We have players like Maru (Marwin Angeles) who can step up to that position, we have Amita (Arnel Amita) as well, and Michael Menzi. We still have a big rotation, we have Eric Giganto, Arnie Pasinabo and we have players trying out for the club who has the potential.”
Talking about their AFC Cup preparation, the players got enough rest after the Copa Paulino Alcantara win. They then resumed training sessions just to gauge the fitness of the squad. They then used the holidays for more rest then got back to training by the start of the year.
“Hindi kami nag-struggle masyado because we established the base from our two weeks training back in December. There’s a lot going on, maraming movements and we, coaches, what we are doing is to just maximize kung anong materials we have right now and we’re trying to put things into pieces para magkaroon ng improvement when it comes to chemistry.” A positive Marcaida emphasizing the importance of starting the year strong.
As their preparations are now in full swing, players are expected to be back to their fitness level from where they were last season and hopefully, carry enough in their arsenal once the AFC Cup begins. The club will be travelling to Laos for their opening game in the regional club tournament to face Lao Toyota on the 27th of February.
To gear them up for a challenging season ahead, Kaya FC-Iloilo will be having rounds of friendly matches with Sabah FA and Ceres-Negros FC.