Preview: Kaya FC v Kitchee

Kaya FC host Kitchee United in Manila in what is a crucial Group F clash in the AFC Cup on Tuesday.

The two teams are separated by just two points at the top of the group and a win for either club would go a long way towards securing their place in the knockout stages.

A win for the hosts would secure them top spot with a game in hand, while Kitchee have more to lose, as Balestier Khalsa are three points adrift of them in third and could still unseat the Hong Kong club.

Since their 1-0 loss away to Kitchee in the opening rounds, Kaya have won three on the trot in the AFC Cup, the most recent being a dominating 3-0 win over Balestier, and Kaya coach Joel Villarino is determined to continue to keep that run going.

“It’s an important game for us if we want to qualify to the next round and finish on top of the group,” said Villarino. “We have a solid game plan and our focus is on this match. We don’t want to disappoint our fans at home.”

Meanwhile, Kitchee stumbled to a disappointing 1-0 loss away to Balestier on matchday two, then drew with New Radiant at home before finally getting a positive 2-0 result away to the Maldive club in the return match.

On the domestic front, despite a run of five straight wins, Kitchee could only cement second place in the Premier League behind Easterns with one match still to play.

The club will be hoping Spanish striker Rufino del Burgo will continue his scoring run, as he has netted three times for Kitchee in the last four outings.

The match will have an early kick-off Kitchee coach Alex Chu admitted that this is of concern as his side may struggle with the heat in Manila.

“The first concern is the weather. We’re not used to playing in this weather because of most of our AFC Cup games are at night,” said Chu.

“I don’t want my players to waste energy. We will be patient, we will keep the ball a lot. That’s our style. We will try to save our energy and take our chances.”

“Kaya have improved so much in the past three games. They play with a good attitude, they are very disciplined and they play fast.”

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