The race for the remaining last 16 berths heats up with newcomer Pachanga and Pasargad looking to secure their place in the round 16 when they face separate rivals today in the United Football Cup at the University of Makati pitch
Pachanga faces already-eliminated Cebu with an eye on the top spot on Group C in the 2 p.m. match, while Pasargad takes on undefeated Green Archers United, needing just a draw to gain the No. 2 seed in Group E.
Both games will be aired live by AKTV on IBC 13.
Only 10 teams have secured their place in the Round of 16, although defending champion Global, with four points from three Group C matches, already has the inside track in one of the two wildcard berths for the best third-ranked teams from among the groups, in the event that Pachanga beats Queen City.
With four points, Pachanga, which squandered a 0-2 lead against Global last Sunday, only needs a draw to make the next round with Stallions from the “group of death.”
Pasargad, which is coming off a 2-4 loss to Forza, could still nail the No. 1 seed from Group F if they beat Green Archers convincingly.
But the Archers, who are already assured of their place in the next round, are in brilliant form, having won their first two matches convincingly with former national team player Floriano Pasilan leading the way.
Aside from the two wildcard berths for the best third-ranked teams, still up for grabs is the No. 2 spot in Group A, where Baguio FC is also in contention.
Baguio faces a make-or-break situation against Lions at 7 p.m. tonight. Lions has the advantage in the race for the No. 2 spot after beating Union last Sunday, 4-2. Baguio lost to Nomads, 0-9, in its debut last week.
Also still to be determined is the second seed from Group F, which will be disputed by Manhur and Sunken Garden at 7 p.m. on Sunday at UMak.
Both Manhur and Sunken Garden have three points and a draw in their last group match could see both teams going through the next round.
Another third-placed team also in the running for a spot in the last 16 is Group E’s Laos FC, which has three points with a plus-1 goal difference – the best among teams with just one win so far.
Meanwhile, two-time league champion Air Force Phoenix and Loyola Meralco topped their respective groups after posting lopsided victories Thursday night.
The Airmen crushed Manila All-Japan, 13-0, with Ian Araneta scoring five goals and Reymark Palmes producing a hat-trick in the Group E clash, while the Sparks overwhelmed sister team, Agila FC, 5-1, in Group B.
Phil Younghusband delivered a hat-trick for the Sparks, who missed second-leading scorer Mark Hartmann and defensive midfielder Matthew Hartmann who are currently training with the Under-23 side in Japan.
The Sparks’ victory eliminated Agila from contention and also gave Team Socceroos’ trouble-free entry as the No. 2 squad from Group E. Socceroos finished the group stage with six points after beating Agila (2-1) and Internacionale (1-0).
Chieffy Caligdong banged in two goals, while Randy Bela-ong, Rolando Duenas and Timothy Rabena contributed a goal each for Air Force, which will be joined by second-place team Navy in the knockout stage.
Kaya FC and Dilliman Victory Liner have already secured the top two slots from Group B, while Green Archers United (Group F) and Philippine Army (Group G) also advanced to the last 16.
Nomads took the No. 1 spot in Group A with a three-game sweep, while Stallion FC was the first survivor out of Group C after winning two of its three games.