As the standard-bearer of club football in the Philippines, United City’s desire to put an impressive performance in the upcoming group stage of the 2021 AFC Champions League has forced the team to prepare outside the country.
United City bared that it will follow the example of the Philippine Azkals and train in the Middle East amidst the dire situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation.
“Due to the tremendously challenging COVID situation in the Philippines, we are now setting up our training camp in Dubai to prepare for the AFC Champions League in Tashkent, Uzbekistan at the end of June,” read the statement.
“All players and coaches will gather in Dubai around 30th of May, with Stephan Schrock and Mark Hartmann joining their teammates following their Azkals duties in China.”
United City is scheduled to compete against the likes of China’s Beijing Guoan, Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale, and one of South Korea’s Daegu FC or Thailand’s Chiangrai United in Group I.
Every team will play one another twice starting on June 26, 2021, until July 11, 2021.
The club that finishes first is assured a ticket into the knockouts while a second-place finish may be enough depending on other results. The knockout round for the East region is pencilled in to start in September.
For CEO Eric Gottschalk, making the Filipino football fans proud is paramount in the upcoming matches. This endeavor is a tangible step to make that happen in Asian club football’s biggest stage.
“We believe Dubai with its world-class training facilities is the ideal location for us to optimally prepare for our historic AFC campaign. We are not able to gather as a team in Manila so we are left with no option other than training elsewhere.”