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'Nervous game' awaits Kaya-Iloilo as it hosts Cebu in PFL restart

Kaya-Iloilo looks to solidify its hold of the top spot at home against Cebu. Kaya FC-Iloilo (file photo)
By Stewart Tan

MANILA—Kaya FC-Iloilo head coach Yu Hoshide expects some sloppiness from both his squad and Dynamic Herb Cebu as they clash in the resumption of the 2022-2023 Philippines Football League on Sunday at the Iloilo Sports Complex in Iloilo City.

Both clubs are playing again for the first time this year or after a long mid-season break spanning from the duration of the FIFA World Cup and the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup to the remainder of January and much of this month.

“This is the first game of the year so there is a possibility that it will be a nervous game,” Hoshide said in the pre-match press conference on Saturday.

In addition, Kaya-Iloilo made major shuffles to its lineup during the lull in action.

Kaya-Iloilo had some subtractions in its roster in Ilonggo Shirmar Felongco, Carlyle Mitchell, Patrick Arthur, Patrick Azare, Sandro Reyes, Oskari Kekkonnen, Quincy Kammeraad, and Connor Tacagni.

However, Kaya-Iloilo had some new signees in former Pasargad FC player Milad Behgandom of Iran and Japanese players Tamon Horikoshi and Dylan Nobiraki.

Still leading the squad are IJovin Bedic, Camelo Tacusalme, Jhan-Jhan Melliza, Robert Lopez Mendy, Jarvey Gayoso, Daizo Horikoshi, Fitch Arboleda, Eric Giganto, Marwin Angeles, Arnel Amita, Simone Rota, Audie Menzi, Mar Diano, Nathan Bata, Marco Casambre, Kenry Balobo, and Zach Banzon.

“I am really excited to resume the league again. We have a strong squad and made good preparations, so hopefully we will have a good start to 2023 next week," Hoshide added.

The Iloilo City-based football club is currently on top of the standings with 30 points, on 10 victories and two defeats, while Dynamic Herb Cebu is at third spot with 21 points, on six wins, three draws and a loss.

However, with United City announcing that it will not play the second half of the season, both clubs are now projected as the top two contenders for the league championship.

This is the third meeting between the two squads as Kaya-Iloilo won their first encounter, 3-0, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium here. before the Dynamic Herb bounced back last October, 3-2, in Cebu City.

Meanwhile, Hoshide is hopeful that Ilonggo football fans will show up just like in their 3-1 win over United City in their first-ever home game this season against last November.

“There was a sense of unity between players and fans in the stadium the last time we played in Iloilo,” said Hoshide. “Hopefully this time again, the fans will give extra energy to the players.”

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