There are only 10 more games left in the group stage of the United Football League (UFL) Cup 2015. Five of the eight quarterfinal slots have already been booked while three more slots remain hotly contested. Seeds are also yet to be determined, making most of the remaining games significant. Entering the last three match days of the UFL Cup’s opening round, we go through the stories from all around the tournament here at FULL TIME presented by Mini Cooper.
Sparks eager to defend their crown; win two on the trot
A 1-1 draw versus Stallion was not the way the Loyola Meralco Sparks wanted to begin their UFL Cup title defense so they made up for it by thrashing their succeeding foes.
They thrived under the sweltering heat to demolish Mendiola FC 1991 to take a 7-0 win last Saturday. Three days later, the Sparks recovered quite easily from falling behind against promotion frontrunners JP Voltes to end the game on top, 5-2. With the pair of wins, Loyola leapfrogged Stallion and JP Voltes and moved a step closer towards gaining the enviable top seed in Group C, touted as the Group of Death by some scribes.
Loyola coach Simon McMenemy described the two results as a product of a professional performance by his players. He also heaped praise on several players in the lineup such as Jake Morallo, Curt Dizon, and Alvin Sarmiento to name a few. With the way the Sparks, both old and new, have been playing, they are all but assured of making the quarterfinals. They are set to play the already eliminated but always determined UST team. A huge win this Sunday May confirm Loyola’s place as Group C winners for they currently hold a better goal difference than Stallion, who are due to battle against JP Voltes in a virtual do-or-die affair.
Green Archers United, Pachanga-Diliman book q’final seats in contrasting fashion
Over the weekend, two teams cemented their places in the knockout rounds of UFL Cup 2015 and they are Green Archers United and Pachanga-Diliman. This does not come as a surprise for both teams are seeded second in their respective groups. The similarities end there, however, for both teams achieved their goal in far different manners.
Green Archers United were scheduled to take on Philippine Army FC last Sunday but it was known on that day that the latter may no longer participate in the UFL Cup. An alleged non-completion of payment on the part of the Philippine Army seems to be the reason behind such forfeiture. Hence, Green Archers United claimed the easiest three points they may ever get–enough to secure a quarterfinal spot.
Meanwhile, Pachanga-Diliman had to be tested in their come-from-behind 4-1 win against fellow Division I side Team Socceroo. The first 45 minutes looked ugly for Pachanga-Diliman after they went behind by a goal at the break. Four goals midway through the second half, however, turned the match on its head and see the UP-affiliated club go through.
Entering into this weekend’s games, both Green Archers United and Pachanga-Diliman have the chance of overtaking Ceres-La Salle and Kaya respectively by winning against them. The latter clubs are favorites to take top seeds but with anything possible inside the 90, Green Archers United and Pachanga-Diliman will go into those matches as confident underdogs who are setting their eyes on an upset.
Three Group D teams jockeying for position
At first glance on Group D, one can say that Global have already made it into the quarterfinals of the UFL Cup and possibly top the pile should they end their group stage run with a win. Having taken all nine points in the offing, Global will next face Laos FC, one of the three teams in the hunt for a quarterfinal place. The other two teams are Laos’ fellow Division II team Laos FC and Division I outfit Manila Jeepney FC. Interestingly, all three clubs have three points each with only goal difference separating them.
Currently, Laos are in second place after destroying Nomads, 7-1, despite a narrow 1-0 loss to Forza. Manila Jeepney are in third, having bounced back from their 4-1 defeat to Global by routing Forza, 5-2, to even their goal difference. As for Forza, they are currently in fourth by losing twice by margins of three goals to Global and Manila Jeepney although they did win their match versus Laos.
It appears that Manila Jeepney have the best chance of qualifying as they have two games which they could win on paper. Laos will be one of them, and the Division II team will plan to forge an upset in order to solidify their grip on second place. With only one game left, Forza’s fate is out of their hands. They will look to outscore Nomads by as much as they can while also hoping for other results to favor them. It will definitely be an interesting Group D which owns four of the 10 remaining games still to be played. Simply put, there are no non-bearing matches in store to the teams still in the race for the quarterfinals.
Tigers’ mentor delighted with team’s showing against tough teams
Having a known powerhouse football team, University of Santo Tomas (UST) hit their lowest point in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Men’s Football by finishing sixth out of eight teams, perhaps the worst in their history. It was a catastrophic outcome for a team that has a rich footballing heritage. Renowned Tomasinos who are active in the UFL include Ian Araneta, OJ Clarino, and Shirmar Felongco among others.
Before their season ended, UST Coach Marjo Allado bared his plans to join several tournaments to make his team improve as a unit. Little did everyone think that one of those competitions will be the UFL Cup, which is an invitational tourney. After seeing his players in action for three games against stronger opponents, Allado likes what he has been seeing. “Iyong laro ng team na hinahanap namin, nandiyan na,” the UST mentor proclaimed.
They were battered, 7-0, by JP Voltes in their first game in the tournament. After that, they made things difficult for Stallion, who won by five goals–less than what many have expected. The progressive trend continued when the Tigers showed character to get a 2-2 draw versus Mendiola FC 1991 just this Tuesday. In the game against Loyola, UST are surely tagged as underdogs and many will expect the Sparks to electrocute the Tigers. No matter what happens, Allado will still be happy for as long as his wards will play as confidently as they have been recently.
That’s a wrap for FULL TIME presented by Mini Cooper watches, where stories from around the UFL are retold with more depth. Mini Cooper watches can be bought at Washington Watches.
Check back next time to stay updated with the latest developments in Philippine club football.