Tuesday, May 26, marked the end of the United Football League (UFL) Cup group stages. Twenty clubs were narrowed down to 16 as the bottom club of each group, namely Philippine Army, Fleet Marine, University of Santo Tomas, and Nomads, bid farewell to the competition. In the final set of games, group positions and the brackets were finalized for teams to trace their path towards lifting the UFL Cup. In this edition of FULL TIME presented by Mini Cooper watches, we make sense of the most interesting stories derived from the last week of the Cup’s group stage games.
Gannaban says knockout rounds begin with Round of 16, not quarterfinals
As the UFL Cup drew nearer in straining the teams into the knockout stages, people in the Philippine football community wondered whether the knockout stages involved eight or 16 teams. After having all the group stage matches played, UFL Technical Director and Head of Football Operations Richard Gannaban announced via Twitter that there are still 16 teams left to battle for one of the country’s major silverware.
When the initial schedule was announced, it was laid out in the list that the competition’s succeeding round will only have eight teams. Rely San Agustin, UFL’s General Manager, even looked to have confirmed this six days before the last match day of the group stage.
— Rely San Agustin (@relysanagustin) May 20, 2015
Four days later, however, Gannaban used social media to issue what appeared to be a contradicting statement. He clarified that the competition will instead be contested by 16 teams which will be sorted by a certain criteria.
To clarify, the @UFLphilippines Cup will have a Round of 16. It will not go straight to Quarterfinals as earlier announced.
— Ritchie Gannaban (@rgannaban) May 26, 2015
The league posted on its official Facebook page yesterday the bracket for everyone to see, confirming that the tournament will have a round of 16.
To determine the brackets, the records of each group’s top four teams were jointly tabulated. In the process, squads with the most points led the table, while goal difference was used to break the tie on points. In the end, the seemingly sudden change in format put into place benefits eight more teams given a chance to take the coveted prize home.
Manson sets ambitious yet attainable objective for rejuvenated Global
“I don’t think we should lose another domestic game,” declared coach of the UFL reigning champions Global FC Leigh Manson after their 5-1 conquest of Laos FC last Saturday. The club appears to have recovered from their uncharacteristically poor start that saw them drop eight valuable points. At the end of the season’s first half, Global find themselves in fourth place, five points behind league leaders Ceres-La Salle.
After a disastrous opening stretch of games that included costly defeats to Yadanarbon away and domestic rivals, Kaya and Loyola, Global looked crashing down towards uncharted territory. During that period, The People’s Club missed several key players notably Captain Misagh Bahadoran. After that barren run of games, Global steadily improved to stay in the hunt for the domestic league title. They halted Ceres-La Salle’s eight-game unbeaten run and nearly took a spot in the AFC Cup’s knockout stages.
Now with a bolstered lineup that features new signings, Matthew Hartmann, Norio Suzuki, and OJ Clarino, Global are geared up to mount a serious challenge in the two domestic trophies left to be disputed. As far as Manson is concerned, winning all the remaining matches in both the league and the cup means that his club will not end the season without something to celebrate about. Clearly, he trusts his team to meet his bold target.
“Perfect” Kaya nab number one seed in knockout stages
With 26 unanswered goals inside 360 minutes of UFL Cup football, Kaya FC has claimed the highest ranking in the round of 16. As a result, they will clash with winless Bright Star FC, who replaced the supposed Group A’s fourth placed team Philippine Army.
After their 3-0 victory over fellow Division I side Pachanga-Diliman, Kaya manager Paul Tolentino commended his players for staying committed in the team’s mission of bringing a major honour to their shelves. In addition, Tolentino did not stress a lot on the fact that his team’s impenetrable defense in the tournament, regarding such feat as a result of mere compliance to their aims as a club. What he is concerned about is getting Kaya into a favourable environment leading to the finals. “Kaya has a history of making life hard in the knockout rounds. Hopefully it’s a more stable bracket now,” Tolentino remarked. It seems that he got what he wished for.
A downside to Kaya’s breathtaking football, however, is the fact that there will be no UFL action for three weeks. He is wary of the long break causing his team to slow down. “Any momentum you built here is not really going to carry over into the three weeks,” he elaborated. In conclusion, Tolentino sees his team determined to give their all in pursuit of lifting a trophy in August.
Loyola summon top guns to extinguish UST’s valiant resistance
Before the game between UST and Loyola Meralco Sparks, many people perhaps thought that the Division I outfit would score more than 10 goals past the UAAP team. After the final whistle, the Sparks slotted in an unsurprising seven. It looked like a heavy defeat, but what caught everyone surprised was the goalless score at halftime.
“They put up a real hard fight. At halftime it’s 0-0. I told them ‘it’s these guys’ cup final.’ They’re fighting for their pride. They’re playing against one of the bigger teams. They’re going to give everything so long as the score stays close,” the Loyola Coach, Simon McMenemy, spoke of their after their Sunday evening match. Actually, it nearly even became 1-0 for UST had Steven Anotado’s shot been a couple of inches lower than when it hit the crossbar. The Sparks dominated in the first half but Jose Zaldy Abraham stood well in goal to frustrate Loyola, who played without some of their star players such as national team players James Younghusband and Simon Greatwich.
In the end, it was Phil Younghusband’s entry into the game that altered the course of the match. Simply, Loyola battered UST by scoring six times in the last 20 minutes to complete a flattering 7-0 rout. “We wanted to make sure that we take our chances,” McMenemy uttered. He also acknowledged that their opponents did not look to score apart from Anotado’s strike against the run of play, but they surely made things difficult for Loyola, who relied on their stars to more than guarantee the points. “They made it really difficult defending like heroes ’till the end,” the Scottish mentor remarked. Winning by more than a goal was also important for the Sparks, who as a result moved a placr above fifth ranked Stallion in the aggregated 16-team classification table.
That is for this week’s version of FULL TIME presented by Mini Cooper watches, which are available at Washington Watches.