AFC Cup

Five takeaways from Tito Jay: Stellar Performance by Kaya FC-Iloilo Away from home

It was always tough to play away from home but by the looks of it, playing a game behind closed doors played its part for the travelling Kaya FC-Iloilo as they earned a draw at the Stadion Pakansari Bogor.

Amidst the recent concern about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the AFC Cup match between PSM Makassar and Kaya FC-Iloilo still pushed through but was played behind closed doors for the spectators’ safety.

As a result, the atmosphere was not up to the Red Fish’s standard which might’ve played to the visiting side’s advantage. We now take a look at the five takeaways from the match by yours truly.

1) Making the ball work in their favour

Over the last two games this season, have seen less of the ball especially in their home game against Tampines Rovers which ended in a scoreless draw. This match, however, saw a different Kaya FC.

They’ve held the ball 66% of the entire match and strung 426 passes with an 86% passing accuracy. Not only do they do have the possession of the ball, but they also used it effectively and won nine corners in the process, giving them enough time to set their plays and threaten the defence.

For almost the entirety of the match, Kaya FC gave it their all and put the hosts under pressure. Though they have conceded a goal in the 20th minute, it did not play too much in effect as the visitors’ morale didn’t drop.

2) The Compostela Valley Connection

The highlight of the match was when two standouts from Compostela Valley and Far Eastern University combined to score the equalizer of the match and kept the travelling side in a fight for the next stages of the competition.

We’re talking about Arnel Amita, the one who gave the assist, and Eric Giganto, who scored with his head to gave Kaya FC-Iloilo a well-earned point away from home.

This wasn’t the first time these two produced a goal as they were also the culprit of their insurance goal in their opening match against Shan United, also played away from home.

Over these last two matches that they’ve combined for the goal, they showed us what they can do and we might be in for more in the upcoming matches.

To no surprise as well, these performances were coming off the bench from either player. In their match against Shan United, both of them came on as a substitute.

This time around, Amita came on as a substitute a minute before the end of the first half and then gave the goal to Giganto five minutes from the second half whistle. The more they take on the role of super subs, the thirstier they become to provide the goods for their club whenever they need it the most.

3) Too many chances wasted

The draw in Makassar might be seen as a positive result but there’s still a lot to work on if Kaya FC-Iloilo would like to continue their run to the knockout stages.

The most important part that they need to fix is their finishing. In this match, the visitors fired 18 times on goal but only four of them were on target including Giganto’s header.

Yes, they were aggressive. Yes, they showed real intents to win the match. Kaya FC-Iloilo could’ve won by at least two goals over PSM Makassar but those thoughts were put to waste because of some poor finishing.

They’ll have two more weeks to fix this issue as they’ll be facing the same opponents at home and with a chance to notch their first win over PSM Makassar.

4) The Magic of the 4-1-4-1

In terms of their formation, Kaya FC-Iloilo has been rotating their squad in a 4-1-4-1 or 4-4-1-1 with great intents of keeping the ball before blitzing in the attack.

What’s working so far for Coach Oliver Colina and the Lions of Iloilo is the 4-1-4-1 formation. In their opening match in the AFC Cup this season, this is the formation they’ve utilized against Shan United which gave them a two-nil victory away from home.

When they shifted to 4-4-1-1 against Tampines Rovers at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, the differences were night and day. From not being able to hold on to the possession well, to not having the chance of making the ball work for them leading to a scoreless draw.

In an effort to master the art of passing and ball retention, Coach Bing opted to use the 4-1-4-1 formation against PSM Makassar. With Masanari Omura playing as a defensive midfielder, Jovin Bedic and Marwin Angeles pairing up in central midfield, the visitors have seen most of the ball and managed to pass the ball around.

They’ll be needing more of this if they want to win their next couple of matches as this is becoming their comfort zone. And with the personnel that they have, Kaya FC-Iloilo might just be able to pull off this trick.

Not only they do control the ball in midfield, but also they can attack with so much pace from the wings knowing that Giganto and Daizo Horikoshi can provide those incisive runs from the wings.

5) All to play for in Manila

With the tough away match against PSM Makassar already behind them, Kaya FC-Iloilo will now gear up for a two-game homestand come April 15 and April 28.

First one will be against their same opponents PSM Makassar before taking on Shan United two weeks after.

Be it a match behind closed doors or not because of the ongoing COVID-19 threat in Metro Manila, it should still be in Kaya’s favour given the familiarity they have on this pitch and the thought of punching their ticket to the knockout stages before flying to Singapore to face Tampines Rovers.

Should the 2019 PFL Runners-up win those two matches, they will get more clarity in their chances of moving to the next stages of the competition.

Photo by: Kaya FC-Iloilo

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