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Kaya's playoff bid stalled by 0-1 home loss against Kitchee

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Kaya hit a road block in its quest to advance to the AFC Cup knockout stages as they bowed to Kitchee, 1-0, in a crucial match for both clubs at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Tuesday.

Harima Hirokane scored a stunning 85th minute goal as the Hong Kong-based club braved the heat that was measured at 33 degrees Celsius and swept its season series against the UFL club following a 1-0 home victory at Matchday 1.

The 18-year-old Japanese grabbed the ball off a loose ball scramble and slotted it past Matt Acton for the eventual game-winner in what was otherwise a Kaya-dominated match highlighted by furious attacks in the latter part of the game that gave Kitchee's defense a hard time.

The win moved Kitchee back to the top of Group F with ten points and can officially take the top seed with a win back at home against Balestier on Matchday 6.

Kaya, which only needs at least a draw in one of the next two matches entering Tuesday, can still clinch a spot in the playoffs with either a stalemate or a victory at New Radiant.

However, they can also earn it if the Maldivian club, which is officially eliminated with the Kitchee win, beats Balestier later Tuesday.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno