There will be a change in scenery this Saturday in the United Football League (UFL). Instead of having the usual club football action that it has given in the past two months, the UFL will be staging an interesting set of matches to whet the appetite of football fans in the country at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. “The event primarily is organized as a charity event and as a marketing event to help promote football, not just the UFL but also the teams who are also involved in the UFL,” stated the league’s technical director Richie Gannaban. “It is also our way of giving back to the community,” he added.
A renowned rivalry will be rekindled in the first game dubbed as the Western Visayas Classic. The match, which will kick off at 5:15 in the afternoon, will showcase the brightest players coming from the football crazy provinces of Iloilo and Negros Occidental. The Ilonggos will be coached by Stallion FC Assistant Coach Marjo Allado while Ian Treyes will mentor the Negros Occidental selection. The talent pool for both teams is rich as it includes regular starters and several big names, such as Ruben “Balut” Doctora Jr., Eduard Sacapaño, Ian Araneta, and Tating Pasilan to name a few, who are not only popular in Region 6 but across the country too. In fact, Doctora of Stallion FC will captain the Iloilo team, who will be donning red, and Sacapaño will lead the way from the back for the yellow-clad Negros Occidental.
Both parties branded the game as a fun encounter, pitting traditional rivals against each other. “It’s always a pleasure playing against Iloilo,” told James Tinsay who spoke on behalf of Treyes in the press conference held at the Giligan’s Restaurant in Star Mall Mandaluyong earlier today. In response, “I think it’s all about pride,” stated Allado who is also hopeful that fellow Visayans, particularly from the said provinces will be able to witness the occasion and support their teams live at the venue. The captains shared their experiences in games against each other, with Sacapaño stating the 1997 Regional Meet win the Negros Occidental team recorded against a much-fancied Iloilo side to claim the championship that year. For his part, Doctora made it known that he has never lost an Iloilo-Negros Occidental match from elementary up to high school. On Saturday, someone has to give for sure. If the game ends in a deadlock, both teams will be gunning for bragging rights via a penalty shootout, skipping the 30 minutes of extra time commonly used as tiebreakers in knockout games.
The other big showdown will be between the best of the Philippines versus the Rest of the World selection which will be held at 8:15 in the evening. Loyola Meralco Sparks gaffer Simon McMenemy, the man who coached the Azkals in the game-changing 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup run that saw the Philippines reach the semifinals for the first time, will be mentoring players whose origins are outside of the 7,107 Philippine islands. On the other side of the fence sits Ali Roxas Go, a former Philippine international and is now serving as the coach of Ceres-La Salle FC. Among the heavyweights in the Philippines squad include Aly Borromeo, Phil Younghusband, Misagh Bahadoran, and Juani Guirado while the Rest of the World’s stellar cast will be bannered by Izzo El Habbib of Global, Joaquin Cañas of Loyola, Louis Clark of Kaya and Kim Sang Min of Ceres. “For everyone interested in football, it’s going to be a good spectacle,” McMenemy reckoned while also implying that it will be tough to claim who will end the night as winners as both teams have a good bunch of players with them. On his part, Go thinks that the true winners will not only be his team and their opponents but everyone in general. “I think this is going to be good for football in our country. For sure it’s going to be a good game, I think both teams are in good shape. Rest assured, I think the boys will give their 100% in the game,” he remarked. Just like the first match, should there be a tie at the end of the 90, the winners will be determined by way of the eternally dramatic penalty shootout.
In between the two gigantic matches will be the UFL XI vs 100 kids exhibition match. There will be one player representing each of the 10 Division 1 clubs of the league with news anchor and presenter Paolo Bediones occupying the last slot. Together, they will play against 100 kids—all of whom will be on the field at the same time—in a match that will be played under the spirit of goodwill. Tickets for the event will be priced at 100 pesos and the proceeds will be going to Operation Smile, an NGO dedicated to attend to the needs of children with cleft palette.
The whole event will be shown on a delayed basis on AksyonTV on the following day. For more information visit http://ufl.ph