New football tournament gathers the PH's best
MANILA, Philippines - With the UFL season taking a much needed break, there is a new competition in the country, the PFF-Smart National Club Championships. This tournament features 16 teams across the country, all vying for the recognition of being the nation's top club.
The title is currently defended by reigning UFL league champions Global FC after they defeated Smart San Beda 3-2 on aggregate in the last tournament held in 2011.
Ten teams represent the National Capital Region (NCR), two clubs represent Luzon, two clubs represent Visayas and two clubs represent Mindanao to complete the 16 participants.
Leading the NCR participants are the United Football League sides that advanced to the knockout stages of the recently concluded UFL Cup with Cup winners Stallion FC and runner up Global FC, Kaya FC, Loyola Meralco Sparks FC, Pachanga FC, Green Archers United FC, Pasargad FC, Nomads FC, Philippine Army FC and General Trias FC completing the NCR group.
The Luzon group saw two teams in Baguio United FC of Baguio City and Flame United FC of Cavite.
The Visayas group is represented by Ceres FC and Cebu Queen City United FC who featured in the UFL 2nd Division last season notching a 3rd place finish.
The Mindanao group is represented by M’Lang FC of South Cotabato and Romgarjal FC of Dapitan.
Schedule of matches
The draw held last December 7 saw the following matches:
Ceres FC vs Stallion FC – January 13 3:00PM, Panaad Stadium
Nomads FC vs Global FC – January 13 6:30PM, Rizal Memorial Stadium
M’Lang FC vs Kaya FC – January 9 3:00PM, South Cotabato Sports Complex (Kaya won 5-0)
Flame United FC vs Loyola Meralco Sparks FC – January 12 4:00PM, Rizal Memorial Football Stadium
Cebu Queen City United FC vs Pachanga FC – Janauary 12 3:00PM, Aboitiz Football Field
Romgarjal FC vs Green Archers United FC – January 13 3:00PM, JRMSUFS, Dapitan City
Pasargad FC vs Philippine Army FC – January 13 4:00PM, Rizal Memorial Stadium
Baguio United FC vs General Trias International FC – January 12 3:00PM, Benguet State University
Of all the matches in the tournament, only 3 fixtures are going to be held in Manila while the other fixtures are to be held in their respective provinces.
Possibly the most interesting tie of the round is the meeting between Bacolod’s Ceres FC and UFL Cup winners Stallion FC, as it reignites the traditional rivalry between Negros and Iloilo; Stallion has its roots in the football hotbed of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.
Another noteworthy tie is the clash of Pachanga-Diliman FC and Cebu Queen City United FC. The two sides have already met both in the UFL Cup and the UFL 2nd Division.
The expected newsmakers still belong to the different UFL clubs participating in the tournament as they beefed up their squad not only for the tournament but also for the upcoming league campaign.
The biggest move saw national team skipper Chieffy Caligdong leaving Philippine Air Force FC where he won several titles for the club, and moving to Green Archers United FC. Chris Greatwich has also signed, for Kaya FC.
Another move saw Loyola Meralco Sparks adding another firepower up front with the acquisition of former national team striker Freddy Gonzalez of Pachanga FC with talismanic midfielder Anto Gonzales leaving the Sparks for Pachanga.
Global FC, which was approved to join the AFC President’s Cup recently, also beefed up their staff, signing former Ayr United manager Brian Reid to pick up the reins left by multi-titled coach Edwin Cabalida.
Kaya FC already had the first match of the national championships, where they dispatched M’lang FC 5-0 at Koronadal, South Cotabato last Wednesday.
Kaya striker Nate Burkey scored twice in the opening minutes of the match, followed up with newly acquired Chris Greatwich adding a third goal before half time. Dario Dakic and an M’lang own goal completed the rout for the UFL side. - Rappler.com