UFL Preview: Pachanga Diliman went from pretenders to contenders

MANILA, Philippines – Coming off a magical 2013 UFL Cup Cinderella run, Pachanga Diliman FC has turned skeptics into believers as they are now considered among the big boys of the premier football league in the country.

Comprised mainly of players that came from two different clubs, PDFC has done well to gel as a team and transform their image from being just pretenders into legit contenders.

Straight from promotion into the top flight, the club raised eyebrows as they finished fifth in the 2013 League. In their maiden year in the top division, Pachanga Diliman has overtaken more established Division I clubs such as the Green Archers United, Pasargad, and Nomads.

They finished last season with nine wins, a draw, and eight defeats in their 18 League outings. As if making it to the upper half in their maiden season in the highly competitive Division I wasn’t enough, coach Noel Marcaida’s wards went on to crash the big boys’ UFL Cup party, coming from under the radar to reach the Finals and set a duel with the mighty Loyola side for the title.

Although the night didn’t end the way they would’ve wanted it to, PDFC earned the respect of the fans and the clubs around the UFL and there will be nowhere else to go for them but up.

Underrated, but not undetermined

Pachanga - which opens up the 2014 season on Saturday, January 11 against Team Socceroo at Emperador Stadium - may not have a star-studded cast, but what they have are probably the most underrated footballers in the league. Despite his unintimidating appearance, the scrawny Anto Gonzales is a Swiss Army Knife for Pachanga in the midfield. Its Fighting Maroon contingent will be giving the squad a big boost once the UAAP Football tournament is over. Ariel Zerrudo, who scored a brace in the finals of the last cup, is one of the best Filipino strikers not wearing an Azkals uniform. Pair this with the team’s growing confidence and Pachanga might just pull off another surprise in the upcoming League competition.

Entering the 2014 season, Pachanga is banking on its roster that led them to UFL Cup prestige. They have only made minimal changes to their lineup, dropping Alvin Ocampo and Juan Miguel Roy and signing none.  

With the race to UFL glory becoming more and more hotly contested every year, can Pachanga ride on the momentum they earned from the Cup competition, or will they wither against the more experienced and bigger clubs in the league? - Rappler.com