Why ‘The Last Filipino’ Kaya FC’s trip to Incheon was special

Why ‘The Last Filipino’ Kaya FC’s trip to Incheon was special

Kaya FC could be the last Philippine team to advance to the ACL

The past 3rd was a very historic day for Incheon United. It was a victory in the club’s first AFC Champions League (ACL) group stage match held at its home stadium. Incheon’s opponent on this day was Kaya FC, the champion of the Philippine first division.

In fact, they also have a very special story. Due to the ACL regulations, which are scheduled to be revised starting next year, Philippine clubs have virtually lost their right to advance to the competition. If this happens, they will be granted the right to advance to the AFC Cup (scheduled to be renamed ACL Elite League), the next highest league in the ACL.

The following is the full text of an interview conducted with some Kaya FC players at a hotel in Songdo, Incheon on the 4th. 

– It was not an easy game. First, please give a general review of the game.
Peach: “It was a difficult game as I already knew the level of Korean soccer. I had already expected it, but I felt like I had to work harder than usual on the pitch. In particular, the speed of Incheon’s No. 27 Kim Bo-seop was really impressive. And Kang Yun-gu, who I often competed with, was also an outstanding player.”

Janjan:  “ACL is the highest stage for our players. It wasn’t easy either. All the players in Incheon did really well, but I think the center backs’ performance was especially impressive.”

– I understand that this is the first ACL group match in Korea. How do you feel?
Eric:”I visited Korea in 2009. I still remember the high level of Korean soccer and the passionate fans I experienced back then. In fact, I was greatly influenced by Korean coaches when I was young. That’s why it was my dream to play in Korea. And I was really happy to be able to compete with the Korean team like this. If I get the chance in the future, I want to play here again.”  

Nano: “My first impression of Korea was fantastic. In particular, I think the stadium in Incheon is really cool. In fact, I also learned a lot from my Korean coach. In particular, I would like to take this opportunity to coach Kang Hee-gyu, who took the best care of me both on and off the field during my childhood. “I want to say thank you so much.”

– It’s interesting that you were greatly influenced by a Korean coach. Could you please be a little more specific?
Odi: “Actually, many of the players on our team were greatly influenced by the Korean coach. I had a lot of memories with Coach Kang, whom Nano mentioned. Coach Kang explained to me what kind of thinking Korean players have. And he really motivated me when I couldn’t play. Now that I’m playing professionally, that experience is really helpful.”

– Kaya FC is the winning team of the Philippine first division last season. Was there a special secret to winning?
Odi: “I think everyone on the team did their best to relive the memories of playing in the ACL for the first time. It is a natural goal for any Asian professional team player to want to play in the ACL, the highest level. Introduction to our team To give you a brief overview, this is a team that has won the league title once, the UFL Cup title, and the Copa Alcantara Cup twice. The word ‘Kaya’ is not a place name, but has the meaning of ‘brotherhood.’ Our team is based in Ilo. It’s work.”  

– Philippine soccer is somewhat unfamiliar to domestic fans. Could you please introduce yourself?
“The Philippine national team has a lot of great players who play (or played) overseas. What’s a little interesting is that there are a lot of mixed-race players in the Philippines. That’s why they might not be considered to have played overseas. That’s how many mixed-race players there are. There are many. If Korea is called a country of soccer, the Philippines cannot be called that way yet. Korea has various facilities for soccer and passionate fans. Compared to that, I think the Philippines still has areas that need to be improved for soccer. “

– I heard that Fitch has been serving as captain since this season. Is there any pressure?
Fitch: “The coach talked to me about the captaincy before the first game of the season. He said I would be captain in the new season. It is true that sometimes I feel pressure as captain. And I still don’t know how to control this pressure. I’m in the process of learning. However, our team has a really good level of trust among team members. That’s why I feel like I’m learning from my teammates. Also, as I play with gratitude and enjoy every moment, the pressure as a captain naturally begins to lessen. same.”

– I heard that Nano had a very difficult childhood. He is now the best player in his country, playing for the national team. Can I ask what kind of childhood he had?
“If I tell you about my childhood, you might shed tears (laughter). When I was young, I grew up in a very disadvantaged family. My family of 13, including my parents and I, went through difficult times because we had nothing to eat. My father I worked as a manual laborer, and my mother worked as a housekeeper.

It must have been when I was 6 years old. I played soccer for the first time, and from that day on, I fell in love with soccer. Over time, I became a high school champion. And I was a Korean who played in the Philippines. After receiving a scouting offer from the coach, I was able to enter university. Afterwards, I played for the U19 and U23 national teams, and my brothers were able to study at the same school. I was finally able to eat what I wanted and buy what I wanted. It happened! I had the hardest time as a player in 2016. I suffered a really serious injury to my right knee and was convinced that my career as a player was over. But I didn’t give up and devoted myself to rehabilitation for a year. Then Kaya FC gave me a chance. “I have been with the club since 2018.”

– I heard that this season may be the last ACL participation for the Philippine professional soccer team.
Fitch: “I’m not sure, but that’s what I know. I heard that Filipino clubs will be deprived of the right to participate in the ACL due to the revised competition structure starting next season. As you know, playing in the ACL is what makes me the happiest. I miss this stage very much. “I will do it. I hope that one day our Philippine club can play in the ACL again.”

Janjan: “When I first heard the news, I was both happy and sad. First of all, I was happy that I was able to perform on such a high level stage. However, I was very sad that I could no longer perform on this stage due to the changed regulations. Through this competition, 메이저놀이터“I was really happy to be able to go on many overseas expeditions and experience so many cultures.”

– I heard that you had a lot of experiences in a short period of time in Korea. What activities did you do?
Audi: “Other than soccer, my happiest moment in Korea was eating pork belly (laughter). I loved Korean food in the Philippines, but it was really nice to come here and try it myself. If I get the chance, I definitely want to come back to Korea. “

pitch:”This was my first time visiting Korea, but I’ve actually liked this country for a long time. I think Korea is a country with really clean streets and very good security. I especially ate a variety of foods, and I took pictures of all the food and shared them with my spouse in the Philippines. I did it. It was a really good experience. In particular, I ate jjambbong today, and although it was spicy, it was really delicious. I am grateful to Korea for giving me such a great experience.”

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