KAYA FC-Iloilo reached its greatest achievement in the 25-year history of the club, as it booked a seat in the AFC Champions League with a 1-0 win over Shanghai Port on Wednesday at the Pathum Thani Stadium in Bangkok.
Audie Menzi scored the lone goal of the match, enough to seal a place in the AFC Champions League and give the club its biggest win since its inception in 1996.
The win marked a landmark event for football in the country as Kaya FC joins reigning domestic league champion United City in the first year of Philippine representation in the expanded AFC Champions League competition.
Kaya FC is now moving on to the group stage where it will face Thailand champion BG Pathum United on Friday still in Bangkok under a centralized set-up or bubble.
The Philippine club will also be facing Viettel FC on Tuesday, and AFC Champions League reigning titlist Ulsan Hyundai FC on July 2.
Despite the absence of broadcast arrangements for the match, the victory resonated among the Filipino football fans who followed the match via Kaya’s social media accounts.
Menzi scored on a header in the 17th minute, before Kaya’s defense led by goalkeeper Louie Casas held on to force a clean sheet against the Chinese squad who came in as the favorites to win the match.
Kaya came in to the match with new additions including head coach Graham Harvey and Jarvey Gayoso, who was fresh from his stint with the Philippine Azkals in the World Cup and Asia Cup qualifiers.
Kaya FC only needed a victory to advance after its first round opponent Brisbane Roar withdrew from the competition.