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The Noob's Guide to the UFL Cup Quarterfinals

Kaya won its first honor since the 2009 UFL with the Cup last year that sent the club to Asia. Can the team defend it on Saturday? Let's find out. Mark Cristino/UFL
By Kevin Estrada

SO, after a month of international football, it has come to this! The 2016 UFL Cup will now go to the knockout stage after a long break since the final whistle has been blown in the group stage.

Out of 12 teams who come in to start the season, only eight remain in the hunt for the Cup and a place in the AFC Cup next year.

Holder Kaya and League champion Ceres headline the cast of the knockout stage, with six came from the top flight and two came from the former second division.

THE FORMAT:
Here is the cast of clubs who will battle it out for the first UFL silverware and their seeding.

GROUP A: 1. Stallion, 2. Kaya, 3. JP Voltes, 4. Forza
GROUP B: 1. Ceres, 2. Global, 3, Loyola, 4. GAU

The quarterfinal fixtures that will be played on the first weekend of April will be a crossover between 1A and 4B and 2B and 3A and so on.

Winners go to the semifinal, while the losers are relegated to the plate, which will be played for the first time since the March 2011 edition of the Cup.

So this is what the knockout stage bracket looks like. Some interesting storylines abound the quarterfinals. So prepare your brackets.
Photo from UFL

THE HEADLINE 
KAYA vs LOYOLA, April 2
8:15 P.M.
Rizal Memorial


Loyola and Kaya took part in the best televised match ever in 2011. Can we see the same explosiveness from the most played fixture in the UFL? Mark Cristino/UFL

The match to watch out will happen on the very first night of the knockout stages as Kaya battles Loyola.

As soon as final whistle blew at the Rizal Memorial on March 6 that cap off the 11-0 rout of Nomads, Simon Mcmenemy knew that the club is already gearing for war. Waiting on the wings is its arch rival Kaya in a virtual battle royale that is fit for a cup final, seeking for a belated revenge on them five years ago.

Loyola and Kaya will play against each other for the 20th time in all competitions, with the latter holding the slightest of the edge by a win. But Kaya had the defeat in 2011 semifinal fresh in their minds, so this is the perfect time for them to get the revenge they need.

Both of them boasts the top goalscorers in the tournament: Loyola's Alvaro Castiella with nine, followed by Kaya's Robert Lopez Mendy a goal behind.

But the seeding flattered both sides, especially the Sparks, who had been grouped in more deadlier group B along with Global, Ceres, and GAU and needed a last day barrage just to avoid Stallion, which tops Group A unbeaten.

The Honorable Mention
STALLION vs GAU
April 2, 5:15pm

Also playing on Saturday is the first of the KO stage. The lone unbeaten side of the cup will face an acid test against a retooled, yet unpredictable GAU side in a rematch of the 2012 semifinal. Dolfo Alicante's men will look to end a four-year jinx against one of the two sides that they never beaten since their top flight debut, yet they can recall that they able to find ways to come back from last season, coming from 3 goals down in the first 40 minutes to snatch two points away from them to share the spoils between them.

Both clubs are able to retool themselves during the close season, with the Archers getting a big steal in former Stallion and Loyola marksman Lee Joo Young, who won the cup already with two clubs mention and his experience in winning is instrumental for them to get to the final which has been their target at the start of the season.


Expect nothing less of a spectacle when these two meet on Saturday.


For the record here are the rest of the quarterfinal schedule:
APRIL 3, Sunday
Rizal Memorial

5:15 PM - JP Voltes vs Global
8:15 PM - Ceres vs Forza

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada