Tag Archives: United Football League

Global, Ceres to Rep Philippine Club Football in 2017 AFC Club Competitions

Icko De Guzman No Comments

Philippine club football takes a huge step forward as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirmed that the Philippines will have at least two representatives in next year’s AFC club competitions.

Global FC created history by becoming the first Filipino club to participate in the AFC Champions League preliminary round. The AFC Champions League is Asia’s top-tier club competition and is headlined by several teams from Australia, China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

“It’s a huge privilege and responsibility to represent the Philippines at the highest level of (Asian) club competition,” said Global Chief Executive Dan Palami, who has seen his side claim a series of firsts. Global were the first team to participate in both the defunct AFC President’s Cup and the AFC Cup in the past.

Global qualified to the AFC Champions League as UFL League champions. They will face a familiar foe in Singapore’s Tampines Rovers FC in the AFC Champions League first preliminary round on January 24.

Should Global advance to the next round, they will face A-League side Brisbane Roar in Australia on January 31. The play-off match against China’s Shanghai Shenhua is set for February 7 and will determine who will join Japan’s Kashima Antlers, Thailand’s Muangthong United, and the winner of the another play-off tie in Group E.

“Being the first club in the Philippines to be actually competing at this level, we have to absorb the birth pains that a first timer would have to go thru,” added Palami. “Hopefully those that will represent the country in the future, hopefully ourselves as well, will learn a lot from (the tournament).”

In the event that Global fails to qualify for the AFC Champions League, they will join Ceres-Negros FC in the AFC Cup. Ceres qualified to the AFC Cup as the second placed team in the League after Global also won the UFL Cup last April. Originally, the League champions and the Cup winners earn a spot in the AFC Cup.

The AFC Cup will have an updated format for next year with five zones allocated to each region, West Asia Zone, Central Asia Zone, South Asia Zone, East Asia Zone, and the ASEAN Zone. Both Global and Ceres are in the ASEAN Zone. The AFC Cup kicks off on February 2017.

Global are provisionally in Group F with Malaysian powerhouse Johor Darul Ta’zim FC (or Kedah FA), Myanmar’s Magwe FC, and either Cambodia’s Boueng Ket Angkor FC or Laos’ Lao Toyota FC. Loyola Meralco Sparks FC will take Global’s place in the AFC Cup group stage if Global goes all the way to the Champions League group stages.

Ceres are in Group G and will play Vietnam’s Hanoi T&T FC (or SHB Da Nang FC), Malaysia’s Felda United FC, and Singapore’s Tampines Rovers (or Geylang International FC). — CAL

JP Voltes Upsets Ceres on the Last Day of the UFL Season

Icko De Guzman No Comments

JP Voltes FC ended the 2016 United Football League season with a surprise 1-0 win over nine-men Ceres-La Salle FC last night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Already assured of second place and an AFC Cup play-off berth due to a vastly superior goal difference, Ceres went to the game quite relaxed knowing that they had already secured the position after the Loyola Meralco Sparks drew Stallion last night.

Alen Angeles’ 41st minute goal sealed the deal for JP Voltes against a Ceres side that saw Stephan Schrock and Manny Ott finish their season with sending offs. JP Voltes goalkeeper Nelson Gasic capped off an impressive season as he went home with the best goalkeeper plum while Global FC defender Masaki Yanagawa took the best defender award.

“I didn’t expect to get this award,” said Gasic, who also played for the Lyceum in the NCAA. “Even if we finished in fourth place, our coach told to do our best because it’s not just for us but for our suppoters as well.

Angeles came close for JP Voltes in the 15th minute. The winger was left free on the edge of the box, but he sent his shot inches wide of the far post.

The Bacolod side lost Schrock near the 30th minute mark after a hard foul on Camelo Tacusalme. The midfielder was given a straight red card for the challenge.

JP Voltes went ahead four minutes before half-time. Takumi Uesato’s shot was tipped away by Louie Casas but Angeles continued his run to slot the rebound home. JP Voltes led at the half, 1-0.

Ceres applied pressure in the second half but were unable to penetrate past the solid JP Voltes defense. Bienvenido Maranon had a chance from the free kick but Gasic made an outstretched save to keep it out. The goalkeeper also loomed large in the 64th minute to tip away Orman Okuaniya’s shot after the Ceres midfielder won the ball away from Boyet Canedo.

Ceres’ already sorry night turned worse as they went down to nine men in the dying minutes of the game. Manny Ott, who came in late in as a substitute late in the second half, received his marching orders after disrespecting the fourth official.

“It was difficult to play against a good organized team,” said Risto Vidakovic after the match. “(But) The guys did a good job. We finished second and qualified for the AFC Cup.”

The final standings saw Global FC finish the season as League champions with 47 points. Ceres, JP Voltes, and Loyola round up the top four with 41 points apiece. Kaya FC, Stallion FC, and Green Archers United complete the top 7. Forza FC and Laos FC put up a fight but finished in eighth and tenth respectively. Nomads, Agila MSA, and Pasargad did not participate in the second round. — CAL

Stallion Deny Loyola’s AFC Cup Dream

Icko De Guzman No Comments

The Loyola Meralco Sparks FC’s bid for an AFC Cup slot ended after Stallion FC forced a 2-2 draw last night in the penultimate day of the United Football League at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

With the Sparks’ final haul of 41 points, they finish in third place behind Ceres-La Salle FC, who are still to play JP Voltes. Unfortunately for the Sparks, even in the event that Ceres drops the match to JP Voltes, they will still not finish second as the Bacolod side hold a much greater goal differential.

“It’s one of those days. It’s very disappointing that it becomes at this point, but we could be proud of the fight we put out this season,” said Sparks coach Simon McMenemy. “We’ve gone against the odds, worked when we’re down in numbers, battled the whole way and we kept going all the way to the last day of the season. I cannot ask anything more from the players.”

It was Stallion’s seventh draw in the League. Ernie Nierras’ side put in a spirited performance to finish their season on a positive note.

“Stallion players play with heart,” said Nierras. “This was the last game, it did not mean anything to us, but the players thought they didn’t want to end this season on a low.”

Fitch Arboleda surprised the Sparks with the opening goal in the first minute of the match. The Stallion winger was unmarked and rifled in a shot from 35 yards out that left Ace Villanueva helpless.

Arboelda’s opener left the Sparks in disarray at the back as Stallion invited themselves into the Sparks’ own half. Phil Younghusband almost levelled the match in the 36th minute but Ref Cuaresma had a touch on the shot.

The Sparks were given a lifeline right before half-time. Kouichi Belgira’s cross to the path of Simon Greatwich was bundled in by David Basa inside the six-yard box. The scores were level at the half, 1-1.

Ruben Doctora reclaimed the lead from Stallion just eight minutes into the second half. The Stallion skipper muscled his way past Anto Gonzales and slotted the ball in past Villanueva.

Knowing only a win can salvage the Sparks’ season, Greatwich forced another deadlock in the 65th minute. The midfielder fired a shot from long range and in to the top corner as the Sparks confidence grew heading into the final minutes of their season.However, the winning goal never came to be. Cuaresma forced a save on Daniel Gadia’s low shot from long range in the 87th minute. The former Loyola goalkeeper was not finished as he tipped over Joaco Canas’ header to break the hearts of the Sparks, who once again faltered during a game that could have defined their season.

McMenemy also announced that he is leaving the Sparks after this season. “I don’t know, but it’ll be a chapter I won’t be involved in next season,” said the former Azkals coach. “I’m sure there are plans in place, talking to people. I have to think that this won’t happen again for me.”

In the first match, Robert Lopez-Mendy struck four goals as Kaya FC defeated Forza FC, 5-0. Charlie Beaton was the other goalscorer for Kaya.

The season finally comes to a close today. Ceres-La Salle FC take on JP Voltes in the final match of the season at 5:00 PM. The awarding ceremonies follows right after the match. — CAL

Still Alive: Five-star Ceres Spoils Global’s Final Match

Icko De Guzman No Comments

In a bid to save their season and claim a spot in next year’s AFC Cup, Ceres-La Salle FC ended Global FC’s title-winning season in disappointment as they pummeled the newly-crowned champions with a dominating 5-0 win last night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The result saw Ceres climb back to second place with 41 points, just a point ahead of third-placed Loyola Meralco Sparks. The race for second boils down to next weekend with Ceres facing JP Voltes and Loyola taking on Stallion.

“The game was important for us,” said a very satisfied Ceres head coach Risto Vidakovic. “The key was defending good and they did very well.”

Before the match started, Global was introduced as the newly crowned champions. However, that was the only highlight for the champions as they definitely did not look the part against their fierce rivals.

Stephan Schrock almost put Ceres ahead just eight minutes into the match when he launched a shot from his own half. Fortunately for Global keeper Patrick Deyto, Schrock’s shot ricocheted off the bar. The chance proved to be a sign of things to come from the Bacolod side.

Hikaru Minegishi also came close for Global in the 29th minute. Ivan Petrovic found the winger with the cross but Michael Casas reacted well to deny the header.

Adrian Gallardo broke the deadlock in the 38th minute. Carli De Murga was there to direct Schrock’s corner into the path of Gallardo, who fired from close range.

Jeffrey Christiaens doubled the advantage a mere five minutes later. The left back had a little bit of luck as his cross hit the post but went into the back of the net after Deyto mistimed the save.

Things went from bad to worse for the champions right before half-time. Arthur Kouassi was given a second yellow card and his walking papers after a hard foul on De Murga. Ceres went to the break holding a two-goal cushion.

Global looked out of sorts as Ceres made it 3-0 three minutes into the second half. Gallardo set up Orman Okunaiya for the easy tap in to put Ceres on the ascendancy.

Bienvenido Maranon added a fourth in the 80th minute. The midfielder had all the time in the world to fire the shot after Christiaens released him from the left flank. Gallardo completed the rout in the dying minutes minutes of the match with a half-volley off a Marwin Angeles flick.

In the first match, Stallion FC defeated Green Archers United FC, 3-1. Ruben Doctora, Bae Dong Min, and Fitch Arboleda found the back of the net for Stallion. Ronnie Aguisanda scored a consolation for the Archers.

The League draws to a close next weekend at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Kaya FC and Forza FC meet in Saturday’s first game at 5:00 PM and will be followed by the match between Loyola Meralco Sparks and Stallion at 7:30 PM. Ceres and JP Voltes battle in Sunday’s only game at 5:00 PM.

As things stand, only two teams have a realistic chance of finishing in second place: Ceres and Loyola. For the Sparks to finish second, they have to beat Stallion on Saturday AND Ceres has to lose to JP Voltes. A draw for Ceres and JP Voltes will be enough for the Bacolod-based club to finish in second IF the Sparks draw or lose to Stallion.

Fourth-placed JP Voltes have an outside chance to finish in second provided that the Sparks lose their game to Stallion, and JP Voltes (+34 GD) beats Ceres and, somehow, overhauls the Bacolod side’s whopping goal difference at +92. — CAL

Loyola Snatches Second, Knocks Kaya Out of Contention

Icko De Guzman No Comments

The Loyola Meralco Sparks nailed an all-important 2-1 win over Kaya to move themselves up to second place and put pressure on the trailing pack last night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Goals from Phil Younghusband and Joaquin Cañas put an end to Kaya’s aspirations of finishing second in a highly intense match. The match also marked the return of night games at the stadium. RMS’ lighting installation meant the matches in the past few months had to be played during daylight hours.

The Sparks are now in a good position to finish second with 40 points. JP Voltes FC, who claimed a 3-0 default win over Laos FC in the first game, also improved to 38 points, level with Ceres-La Salle FC, but behind on goal difference. The Sparks, JP Voltes, and Ceres-La Salle are still in contention for a spot in next year’s AFC Cup after Global FC claimed the League and Cup double.

“I’m just very pleased today that the boys held on and [they] deserved everything they got today,” said Sparks coach Simon McMenemy. “We put ourselves a chance at AFC Cup action. This is a horrible game to take something from. It’s always tight and to have the three points today is very very satisfying.”

Younghusband put the Sparks ahead in the 25th minute. The Sparks forward was left unmarked in the box and launched a ferocious volley from a Kouichi Belgira delivery from the left flank. The Sparks held a 1-0 lead at the break.

Canas doubled the lead from close range just eight minutes into the second half. Younghusband provided the assist with an inviting cross which allowed the defender to convert.

However, Eric Giganto brought Kaya back to life, scoring in the 57th minute to make it 2-1. Kenshiro Daniels released Jovin Bedic with the long ball, forcing goalkeeper Ace Villanueva to come off his line. Bedic’s shot hit the post but Giganto was there for the follow up into an empty net.

The last 30 minutes saw the Sparks’ rely on their makeshift defensive line of Canas and Anto Gonzales. The rather diminutive Gonzales, who is the head coach of the University of the Philippines’ football teams, put on a man of the match performance on defense and kept Robert Lopez-Mendy at bay the whole game.

The same can also be said for Villanueva. The goalkeeper came on as a last minute replacement for Guilherme Hasegawa. The Brazilian goalkeeper picked up an injury during the warmup. The UP standout rewarded his side with two match-winning saves late in the match to deny Kaya the equalizer. It is interesting to note that Villanueva played his whole college career coached by Gonzales and has one more year to play in the UAAP.

“What Anto lacks in physicality, he makes up for it in the knowledge and know how. He knows what he’s doing even if he’s not playing in that position and he just proved it today. For a guy in his 30s to put a performance like that was phenomenal,” said McMenemy after the match. “(Ace) didn’t expect to start and for him to come in and pull in two saves, he had a very solid game.”

Today, Green Archers United FC and Stallion FC square off in the first game at 5:00 PM. The match between the newly-crowned League champions Global FC and dethroned champions Ceres-La Salle follows at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available at the gate. — CAL

AFC Cup Spot on the Line as UFL Returns to Evening Kickoff

Icko De Guzman No Comments

With Global FC already crowned champions of the United Football League, the race for second place intensifies tonight as the League makes a return to evening kick off times at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

As it stands, four teams have a realistic chance of finishing in second place and winning a spot into next year’s AFC Cup. Three of those teams, namely JP Voltes FC, Kaya FC, Loyola Meralco Sparks, will have the chance to improve their standings tonight.

Fourth-placed JP Voltes look like they have an easier route ahead of them as they face bottom table Laos FC in the first game at 5:00 PM. The newly-promoted side took the League by storm by posting a number of impressive results including a 2-0 streak-ending upset over champions Global FC.

JP Voltes ran riot over Laos in a 4-0 win in the first round with Takashi Odawara netting a brace while Alen Angeles and Takumi Uesato also scoring.

The second game pits bitter rivals Kaya FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks FC in the 7:30 PM kick off. The Sparks are currently in third place with 37 points. Kaya, on the other hand, are in fifth with 34 points and are coming off a 6-0 blowout win over Green Archers United.

Kaya came away with a 1-0 win in their first round meeting last July. Robert Lopez-Mendy’s eighth minute strike was enough for Kaya as the Sparks failed to convert their chances.

The LBC-backed squad is expected to have a complete squad for the clash. The Sparks, however, is hoping for skipper James Younghusband’s fitness. The winger picked up an injury last Monday as the Philippines bowed to DPR Korea in a 1-3 defeat.

A win for any of the three teams playing tonight will increase their chances of getting a somewhat firmer hold of second place.

Tickets are available at the gate. — CAL

Global Clinches 2016 UFL League Title

Icko De Guzman No Comments

Global FC were crowned 2016 United Football League champions after a comprehensive 7-0 win over Laos FC last Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The champions clinched their third UFL League title with a game to spare against a Laos side that began the match with only ten men on the pitch. With the win, Global also became the third team to claim the double of the UFL League and UFL Cup titles.

The double win was a complete turnaround for the club after a forgetful 2015 season where they finished second in the League and were suspended in the UFL Cup after player eligibility issues.

Missing their Azkals players, who are in preparation for their FIFA International friendly matches later this week, Hikaru Minegishi and Matthew Hartmann led the way for Global with a couple of hat-tricks.

“It’s been a tough journey,” said Global chief executive Dan Palami. “We’re happy that we’re able to prove to everybody that Global FC is the most successful team in the Philippines.”

Needing only a point to clinch title, Global kicked off their title coronation match in style. Minegishi scored Global’s first two goals inside the first ten minutes to set the tone of the match. Hartmann made it 3-0 in the 19th minute to take a 3-0 lead at the half.

The Japanese winger completed his hat-trick four minutes into the second half. Ivan Petrovic added a fifth in the 58th minute. Hartmann completed the rout, completing his hat-trick in the 79th and 90th minutes to earn man of the match honors and kick off the title celebrations.

Global coach John Burridge hailed the efforts of now team manager Leigh Manson and Palami for steering the side in the right direction. Before Burridge’s appointment, it was Manson that led Global up until the first round.

“I’ve been under a lot of great players to be honest, and Leigh Manson has done a superb job with the team, also Mr. Dan Palami has done a wonderful job in recouping the players in the team,” said coach John Burridge. “It’s been an easy journey for me.”

However, according to Burridge the title win is just the start of the greater things for Global.

“Now the work starts,” added Burridge. “I don’t want to participate in the AFC competitions just to complete the numbers. We want to be there to win it or go as long as we can, to make this club famous outside of the Philippines and South East Asia.”

Global may have clinched the League title, but the fight is not yet over for the remaining teams. The battle for second place heats up right after the International break on October 15. Ceres La Salle FC, Loyola Meralco Sparks FC, and JP Voltes FC are still in the running for second and an AFC Cup slot. — CAL

Global Beats Stallion, Have One Hand on League Title

Icko De Guzman No Comments

Global FC are just a point shy of collecting the United Football League title after a hard fought 3-0 win over Stallion FC last Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Arthur Kouassi struck twice in the first half while Omid Nazari added a third for Global. Global now just need a point in their last two games to formally clinch the League title for a record third time.

“The lads in the dressing room knew that if they had lost, the pressure is on,” said Global coach John Burridge. “Today the lads went out and defended well.”

Skipper Misagh Bahadoran was unavailable for the match after being sent off in the loss to JP Voltes. Global gained a massive boost as Patrick Deyto returned to the squad after an injury scare last Wednesday. The goalkeeper made two crucial saves in either half to preserve the scoreline.

“Our goalkeeper was magnificent,” added Burridge. “He made one fantastic save in the first half that would have put them 1-0 up and when it was 2-0, he made another terrific save from the free kick.”

Kouassi had the game’s early chance in the 10th minute. Hikaru Minegishi delivered a cross to the path of the Ivorian, but he could only head it wide of the post.

Stallion came close in the 26th minute when Ruben Doctora was on the end of a Fitch Arboleda setup inside the box. However, the Stallion skipper only managed a tame shot that went straight to Deyto.

Global went ahead a minute later. Nazari was able to control Paolo Bugas’ cross by directing it into Kouassi’s path, who then sent it past Ref Cuaresma.

Kouassi made it 2-0 at the stroke of half-time. Kouassi chested down Serge Kaole’s throw-in and unleashed a right-footed shot past Cuaresma.

Stallion had the chance to reduce the lead in the 79th minute from the free kick. Carlo Polli’s free kick was on target but Deyto made a one-handed save to keep the two-goal margin.

With five minutes left, Nazari made the result beyond doubt by scoring Global’s third. The winger sent a devastating free kick from 30 yards out leaving Cuaresma rooted to his line.

Global will get a chance to formally clinch the League and Cup double next Sunday, October 2 against bottom-table Laos FC. A draw will be enough to carry them over the line, but Burridge insisted that it will not be a cakewalk for his side.

“We can’t take Laos for granted,” said Burridge. “We need one point and I will not rest until we get that one point.”

In the earlier match, Green Archers United FC settled for a 1-1 draw against Forza FC. Alvin Sarmiento put the Archers ahead in the 38th minute. However, the Archers were wasteful on the counter-attack and allowed Forza to equalize from a Park Kyul strike with six minutes still left in the contest. — CAL

Stephan Schrock Shines as Ceres Drubs Loyola

Icko De Guzman No Comments

Their backs to the wall, Ceres-La Salle FC came out blazing. The Bacolod side claimed a convincing 4-1 win over the Loyola Meralco Sparks to revitalize their bid for second place on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Stephan Schrock put on a mesmerizing performance for the defending champions. The Azkals midfielder made the Sparks pay for their defense by scoring a hat-trick to put Ceres in prime position for second place.

Risto Vidakovic’s side moved back into second place with 35 points, level with JP Voltes. Ceres, however, hold a sizeable gap on goal difference with +79 compared to Voltes’ +31. Both Ceres and Loyola also have games in hand over Voltes.

“It was crucial for us (to win) because if we lose today, our league (campaign) is done but now we still have a chance on second,” said Vidakovic. “We have two games left and we have to give our best.”

Schrock broke the deadlock just eight minutes into the match. The midfielder sent a looping free kick that caught Sparks goalkeeper Guilherme Hasegawa off his line.

The Ceres midfielder continued on with a second goal in the 21st minute. Hasegawa made a blunder when his short pass fell into the path of Bienvenido Marañon. The Spaniard released Schrock inside the box to score the second goal of the match.

The Sparks, despite being unable to penetrate the defense, came close to getting a goal back in the 34th minute. James Younghusband was on the end of a Phil Younghusband corner but headed the chance wide. The first half ended with Ceres in the driver’s seat at 2-0.

It turned from bad to worse for the Sparks as Manny Ott made it 3-0 in the 51st minute. Schrock delivered the inviting ball for Ott to finish from just inside the penalty area.

Schrock completed his hat-trick in the 82nd minute. The midfielder went one-on-one with Hasegawa and slotted it to the far post.

The Sparks did get a consolation when Simon Greatwich scored in the 88th minute, but it was not enough. Ceres now have the upper hand in the race for second place.

In the first game, Kaya FC walloped Laos FC, 8-0. Louis Clark fired a hat-trick while Kenshiro Daniels added a brace. Sean Kane, Junior Muñoz, and Janrick Soriano added the cherries on the top. — CAL

Ceres, Loyola Battle for Second Place in Six-Pointer Clash

Icko De Guzman No Comments

Defending champions Ceres-La Salle FC look to save their season as they take on the Loyola Meralco Sparks in a crucial battle for second place today, September 24, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Bacolod side have been on a free fall in the second round and have only collected a total of four points since Risto Vidakovic took over the side. Last week’s 1-0 defeat to Kaya was the knockout blow to Ceres’ already faltering title defence.

On the other hand, the Sparks head into the match with renewed vigor after their come from behind 3-2 win over JP Voltes last week. Tahj Minnicon, Phil Younghusband, and Kouichi Belgira gave life to the Sparks in that game. The Sparks are currently in third place, just a point behind second placed JP Voltes, who defeated leaders Global last Wedensday.

Both teams, and JP Voltes have been chasing Global for most of the season. With Global poised to claim the League title, the onus is now on the three teams to contest second place, and a spot into next year’s AFC Cup.

Sparks coach Simon McMenemy is relishing the chance to do the double over the Bacolod side. Curt Dizon, James Younghusband, and Alvaro Castiella were on target for the Sparks in their first round meeting which ended in a 3-2 win.

“We’ve got to give everything we’ve got (against Ceres),” said McMenemy. “They’re a really good squad and we have to match them. “If we match them, there’s a good chance that we can sneak something in with the quality of players we have.”

Kaya FC and Laos FC meet in the first game at 1:30 PM. Kaya whitewashed Laos in the first meeting, 10-2. — CAL

Updates to your inbox!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner