Kaya lloilo joins reigning Indonesian league champ in AFC Cup group

The reigning Indonesian champs await Kaya Iloilo in the AFC Cup. PFL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Kaya Iloilo might find itself taking on the defending Liga 1 champion following the group draw of the AFC Cup on Monday at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Kaya Iloilo, which clinched a place in the second-tier continental tournament by ruling last year's Copa Paulino Alcantara, was drawn into Group G, which also features Kedah Darul Aman and Bali United.

Bali won the Indonesian league title in 2019 and was designated this year following the cancellation of the 2020 season and a change in the schedule for this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Kedah finished second to Johor Darul Tazim in the Malaysian Super League, earning the former a ticket to the AFC Cup and eventually a chance to take on Kaya Iloilo.

Completing Group G will be the winner of the April 19 showdown between Visakha of Cambodia and Young Elephants of Laos.

However, the group could be down to just three teams if Kaya Iloilo qualifies for the AFC Champions League group stages.

Kaya Iloilo will first take on a still to be determined A-League outfit in the first round of the qualifying phase on March 8 with the winner battling Changchun the following week to determine the last member of Group H in the ACL main tournament.

A standby PFL club would have taken the place of Kaya Iloilo should it goes past the qualifiers, but since the Azkals Development Team, which was the runner-up in the Copa, is without an AFC club license, the club is ineligible.

The top team from each of the three ASEAN Zone groups will enter the zonal semifinals with the best second placer completing the playoff cast.

The AFC Cup championship has been declared vacant as last year's champion, Al-Muharraq, failed to obtain an AFC license for this year.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno