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Kaya’s ACL Dreams Crushed by Rampant Sydney

Kaya FC-Iloilo’s AFC Champions League aspirations were ended emphatically on Tuesday as the Filipino giants dropped their qualifying match away to Australian powerhouses Sydney FC 5-0. The Sky Blues went on a second-half rampage at the Jubilee Oval to send Kaya down into the AFC Cup group stages while at the same time ensuring that they would make their first appearance in the ACL group stage in two years.

Following the withdrawal of China’s Changchun Yatai from the ACL qualifying play-offs, the winner of Tuesday’s preliminary qualifying round tie between Sydney and Kaya would march on to Group H, where they would play hosts Hoang Anh Gia Lai of Vietnam, Japanese titans Yokohama F. Marinos, and South Korean behemoths Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Eyeing a second-consecutive ACL group stage appearance, Kaya actually did well in the opening 30 minutes, going toe-to-toe against their more established opponents. However, Trent Buhagiar blasted a shot past Kaya goalkeeper Zach Banzon to give Sydney the advantage.

And then the floodgates truly opened in the second half. Former Besiktas danger man Bobo scored a brace in a space of two minutes including a 49th minute penalty, before former Reading striker Adam Le Fondre bagged his own brace in a ten-minute salvo, ensuring that Sydney would book themselves a trip to Ho Chi Minh City for the ACL group stages.

As for Kaya, they will have to continue their continental campaign in the AFC Cup, where they were drawn into Group G alongside hosts Bali United of Indonesia, Malaysia’s Kedah Darul Aman, and Visakha FC of Cambodia.