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AFC Champions League Preview: Incheon United vs. Kaya FC-Iloilo

Looking to make it two wins from two in the AFC Champions League, Incheon United welcome Philippines Football League Champions Kaya FC-Iloilo this Tuesday. Incheon boss Jo Sung-hwan now has to carefully balance the club's priorities with a place in the top six of K League 1 up for grabs at the weekend but not before his side looks to record a first ACL win in front of the team's own supporters. 

Overview & Match Information

Fixture: Incheon United (KOR) vs. Kaya FC-Iloilo (PHI)
Competition: 2023-2024 AFC Champions League Group G, Matchday 2
Venue: Incheon Football Stadium
Date: Tuesday 3rd October 2023, 19:00

Incheon United this Tuesday welcome Philippines outfit Kaya FC-Iloilo to Sungui Arena Park for what will be the club's first-ever AFC Champions League Group Stage game at home. For Kaya, it's a first-ever ACL away match in the Group Stage of the competition as their last campaign was played at a neutral venue in Thailand.

Recent Form

Imcheon head into Tuesday's match on the back of a 2-0 win over Suwon Samsung Bluewings. The win made it three unbeaten and one loss in five and just two in 10 for Jo Sung-hwan's men. Incheon now sit in the top six of K League 1 heading into the final pre-split round this coming weekend.

For Philippines outfit Kaya FC-Iloilo, the domestic season ended in May with a league title win. Since then, Kaya continued their dominance in the Copa Paulino Alcantara, a cup competition played in a round-robin format. Kaya have won five from five and sit top of the group with 40 goals scored and just two conceded. Most teams in Kaya's group are not professional outfits, though, and their last results include a 5-1 win over a university team. 

In the ACL, Incheon began life on the continent with a 4-2 win over J.League champions Yokohama F. Marinos, picking up a 4-2 win. The scoring was opened in the eighth minute with Kim Ju-yeob's cross making its way into the back of the net off the Yokohama goalkeeper Jun Ichimori for an own goal. Takuma Nishimura levelled on 17 minutes but Incheon had the noses in front once again before the interval with Gerso showing great pace and composure to find himself bearing down on goal. Former Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers attacker Ryo Miyaichi pegged Incheon back two minutes why of the break but a second-half brace from Hernandes sent Incheon back to Korea with all three points.

Kaya FC-Iloilo began their first-ever ACL campaign with a 3-1 loss to Shandong Taishan. The Chinese side didn't open the scoring until after the hour mark, though, with Moisés converting from the spot on 63 minutes. Former Daejeon Hana Citizen winger Matheus Pato made it 2-0 on 71 minutes only for the Kaya to pull a goal back through Javier Gayoso eight minutes later. But the win was well and truly sealed deep into injury time with Cryzan finding the back of the net.

Team News

Attacking midfielder Paul-José M'poku sat out the visit of Suwon Bluewings at the weekend through suspension but will be available again for the visit of Kaya. Mun Ji-hwan is also available again after suspension while Harrison Delbridge is likely to return to Incheon's backline after being rested last time out.



Naturally, as this is Incheon's first foray into the ACL, Tuesday's meeting will be the very first between the two clubs. Kaya have come up against K League opposition before, though, having qualified for the Group Stage once before in 2021. That season, Kaya came up against Ulsan and lost twice - 3-0 and 2-1. The only other meeting between K League and Philippines teams was in 2022 when Jeonnam Dragons recorded two wins over United City.

The Adversary

Kaya qualified for the Group Stage as the 2022-2023 Philippines Football League champions for what is their second ACL campaign proper. Said league title is the first in the club's history, the first time Kaya qualified for the ACL it was as runners-up in the league with the Philippines top flight afforded two possible spots that season. Kaya have won the Copa Paulino Alcantara twice and are into the quarterfinals of the competition this year. The club was founded in 1996 and has Northern Irish manager Colum Curtis in charge. He set the team up in a 4-1-4-1 against Shandong at home. In that match, Kaya managed just two shots on target from 12 attempts and so will be looking to improve in that regard. 

What to Watch

Incheon's change in approach

Roles will be reversed from Incheon's first ACL match having been the underdogs away to the Japanese champions to now - in a similar fashion to the playoff against Hai Phong - being the favourites. The difference with the Hai Phong game, though, is that Incheon will have to get the job done in the 90 minutes. But what will be interesting to see is how Jo Sung-hwan's makes the most of his side's explosive pace in the counterattack in a game which may see his team have most of the ball. 

Who to Watch

Stefan Mugoša, Incheon United

Coming up against perhaps the weakest team in the group, Stefan Mugoša will be smelling goals and will be determined to make sure he gets off the mark in the ACL. He scored at the weekend in the 2-0 win over Suwon Bluewings, firing in from the spot for his third of the campaign after scoring in the match previous as well, meaning the Montenegro international is on the hunt for a third goal in as many games. He recorded an assist in the playoff match against Hai Phong, teeing up Cheon Seong-hoon to make it 1-1, and since returning Mugoša has, in total, has made five goal contributions with two assists. Three goals is about on par with his xG of 3.71 with 35% shooting accuracy. Mugoša has won 40% of his aerial duels, had 23 touches in the box, and has made three key passes.

Javier Gayoso, Kaya FC-Iloilo

Left winger and Philippines international Javier Gayoso will be one to watch for Kaya. He scored against Shandong in Matchday 1, showing great composure to latch on to a superb through-ball from Ricardo Sendra before rounding the goalkeeper and tucking the ball into the back of the net. Showing how clinical he can be, the goal was his only shot on goal against Shandong with Kaya having less of the ball than their Chinese visitors. Gayoso also showed 75% passing accuracy, 50% accuracy for dribbles, and won 50% of his offensive duels. 

Stefan Mugoša Interview

More ACL coverage...

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