Kaya-Iloilo officially signed former Stallion-Laguna mainstays Fitch Arboleda and Jhan-Jhan Melliza ahead of its domestic campaign in the AFC Champions League preliminary stage
The club made the announcement Friday, March 26, more than a month after Stallion coach Ernie Nierras confirmed the departure of his long-time players for a chance to compete in AFC club competitions.
Arboleda and Melliza are expected to play key roles in Kaya’s bid to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.
Kaya will face Australia’s A-League side Brisbane Roar in the preliminary round that was rescheduled from April 7 to either June or July due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The winner advances to a playoff round match opposite Chinese Super League club Shanghai Port for a spot in the Champions League group stage.
Even if it fails in its ACL bid, Kaya is assured of a spot in Group I of the AFC Cup alongside Malaysia’s Terengganu, Myanmar’s Shan United and Singapore’s Geylang International.
Kaya is also out to redeem itself from a runner-up finish in last year’s shortened Philippines Football League season despite going unbeaten in five matches.
Scheduled to return this year is the Copa Paulino Alcantara, the cup competition which was last played in 2019 when Kaya lost to Ceres-Negros in the Final.
Arboleda joins Kaya after nine seasons with Stallion while Melliza will play for his third team since starting his club career for Green Archers United.