Football is back in the Philippines with the 2012 United Football Cup. After the highly successful 2012 League competition, the UFL returns with the Cup competition, to be shown this time on primetime television.
Defending champions Philippine Air Force Phoenix will put its title on the line against some formidable opposition in the form of Global, Kaya, Stallion and the Loyola Meralco Sparks. The Cup competition having a knock-out format, it is not unfathomable to see some surprises along the way.
Here are the complete line-ups of the ten Division One teams together with Division Two sides Philippine Navy and Diliman FC.
With the addition of new Azkals into its fold, the reigning League champion spared no effort in its attempt to wrestle the Cup back to it side. The addition of Denis Wolf will soften the loss of Angel Guirado, but the team will still rely on the prolific Izo El-habbib to score the goals. Carli de Murga will be expected to replicate his MVP form from League play.
The addition of Demetrius Omphroy and Matthew Uy adds depth to Global’s already formidable defense. All eyes will be on Paolo Pascual, who is returning to action after significant time off due to injury.
Green Archers Globe
The Archers listed only 22 players in their roster, and they will need every single player to do well for them to go deep in the Cup. Ayi Nii Aryee will add experience to the team, whilst Dom Mensah will add depth in defense for the Archers.
The team will need to provide talisman Tating Pasilan with some relief in the goal-scoring duties. He accounted for 12 of the team’s 30 goals last season.
Kaya retained the core of the team that almost won the league last time out. Eric Dagroh will lead the line for Kaya, and he will be ably supported by highly-rated signings OJ Porteria, Antonio Ugarte and Sean Iliff.
Prince Boley and Joshua Beloya are conspicuously absent from the roster, but Lexton Moy’s return to the lineup will be important for the team.
Loyola Meralco Sparks
Loyola has addressed the lack of depth in its roster by signing PJ Fadrilagan, Chad Gould and Simon Greatwich.
“They will give us squad depth and strength in positions we may have lacked last season”, said Phil Younghusband.
The Sparks have also brought in three Koreans, Kim Woo Chul, Jang Jo Won and Heo Hoon Goo, who are expected to make a big difference to the team, depthwise. However, Loyola will still rely heavily on the Younghusband brothers, who along with Mark Hartmann will be expected to shoulder the goal-scoring duties for the Sparks.
Nomads Auction Manila
Nomads lost Darren Hartmann, Fidelis Nnabuife and Jerry Theuer in the offseason, but have been bolstered by no less than ten new faces on the team.
In particular, Aaron de Rama has caught coach Mick Denison’s eye as the team from Merville looks to improve on last year’s showing in the UFL Cup.
A healthy and in-form Jeff Blake together with former Division 2 MVP Steven Borrill and captain Randy Musters will be keys for the team’s success this year.
Division Two champions Pachanga enter the UFL Cup on the back of a very tumultuous offseason which saw the club sold to a group connected with rivals Diliman FC, of all teams.
The result is that no less than 11 Diliman Victory Liner FC players find themselves in the 25-man roster of Pachanga, including Ariel Zerrudo who scored 19 goals for Diliman.
Guam international and captain Jason Cunliffe also made the roster for the team. It will indeed be very interesting to see how team dynamics pan out for the Red Phoenix in the cup.
A new look Pasargad attempts to bring back its good old glory days. Sporting no less than fifteen new players, it underwent an extreme overhaul in the offseason. Kenneth Dolloso joined the team from Pachanga and will provide experience between the posts. Highly-touted 19-year-old Fil-Am Josh Boone has joined the team, but Pasargad will expect Super Shayan Jafari Dastjerdi to continue his good form from last season.
Philippine Air Force Phoenix
The Airmen will offer no surprises for opposing teams, as they bring back familiar faces and names to its roster. Ian Araneta and Yanti Barsales will be marked men yet again.
Only Neckson Leonora and Mark Anthony Fernandez have joined the squad from Pachanga and Pasargad, respectively. Perhaps the most important addition to the team is the one who has not departed, yet. Chieffy Caligdong has been linked with a slew of other clubs, but will don PAF’s colors for the UFL Cup.
Philippine Army Fritz & Macziol
Army makes three changes in its roster to strengthen the team with the addition of Kevin Benas, Jake Macuja and Jake Rodrigazo. Nonetheless, the team will still rely on old regulars and Azkals Roel Gener, Ed Sacapano, Boogie Margarse and Yok Becite to lead the team back to its glory days.
Robocop Jeoffrey Lobaton will once again reprise his role as enforcer in the middle of the pitch. Champ Baron will have to do better to support Meliton Pelayo in the final third.
Penson Stallion Giligan’s
All eyes will be on Stallion’s three high profile signings in the offseason — Inter de Madrid players Rufo Sanchez and Joaco Canas and Azkals enforcer Jason de Jong.
They will only add depth to a Stallion team loaded with Korean stalwarts led by Lee Joo Young. It will still be the Ilonggos’ team though, as captain Balot Doctora hopes to lead the way to victory for the Pink and Black attack.
It’s sort of a last hurrah for Navy before it is relegated to Division Two once the League competition begins.
Diliman Victory Liner
Division Two runners-up Diliman FC has seen its ranks decimated by player transfers to Pachanga. Its 25 man roster boasts of 13 new players, among them Futkalero Peter Amores (Union), Alex Camara (Loyola) and Paolo Misa (Pachanga).
Team cohesion will be key, as well as team morale. These two things will be difficult for a team stripped of its best players, in order to strengthen erstwhile rival and now seemingly a sister team, Pachanga FC.
Ryan Fenix is InterAKTV’s resident football analyst. His football column Rampaging Fullback appears exclusively on the site. He runs the football blog The Prawn Sandwich Brigade and covers football for AKTV on IBC. For more football discussion, follow him on Twitter.