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HERE WE GO AGAIN | UFL second round preview


By Kevin Estrada

WELL, that escalated quickly.

After 20 days since the epic draw between Ceres and Global, the United Football League resumes its hostilities for the second round.

With that, there are a lot of talking points to be discussed as we had a brief respite after Perth Glory paid a visit to us the past week.

WHERE DO WE START?
League Table after Round 1. UFL
We start our preview at the league table, and after 66 matches played, Global are still on top of the pile, undefeated and are on course in achieving the double for the first time since 2013.

However, waiting on the wings was reigning champions Ceres, who are three points back but with the second-hottest run before snapping Global's own winning streak in that thrilling draw last July 17.

The season will not be complete without the surprise gatecrashers in JP Voltes, as last season's playoff winners are above usual contenders Loyola, Kaya and Stallion in the top half of the standings, picking up seven points off them in the first round.

The bottom half of the table is comprised of league pioneer GAU and the rest of former Division 2 sides Forza, Nomads, Laos, Agila and Pasargad rounding up the twelve clubs participating this season.

With all things said and done, what can we expect from the second round?

MANAGERIAL CHANGES


After two spells that produce back-to-back PFF Smart Cups, an FA League Cup and a League title, Ali Go will now take the directorship of Ceres full-time (File Photo)

The second round see changes in personnel taking over in the touchlines, as two clubs will introduce new gaffers after the all-star break.

Reigning champions Ceres had elevated Ali Go back to his old role as club director as Serbian Risto Vidakovic will take full reins on the first team on Aug. 7, three weeks after his debut in the touchlines helping the then outgoing manager as the Busmen came from two goals down to force a stalemate against league leaders Global.


Dan Padernal will now formally join former Global players Yu Hoshide and Masaki Yanagawa at the JP Voltes bench, having been seen at the VIP room of Rizal since July 2, when the dark horses pulled the plug on Kaya in a come-from-behind win.


RETURN OF EVENING FOOTBALL


The lighting problems of Rizal Memorial forced the league schedule its kick-offs late in the noon, but that will change in September.

This season, the league went slightly back to 2012 mode with afternoon kickoffs, but stepped it up a notch with the introduction of matches starting at 7:30 a.m. that is probably the world’s earliest start to a first-class football game.

The UFL had to adjust with concerns with the floodlights of Rizal Memorial’s grandstand, which suddenly went out in the first half of Loyola-Ceres on opening day.

Those changes on kick-offs lead to some concerns with health and heat, as cooling breaks were a commonplace, due to the temperature that went to stratospheric heights.

With the fixing of Rizal’s lighting for the Suzuki Cup nearing its completion, UFL will finally test these as they resume evening kickoffs for the first time since Labor Day on Sept. 10, when Loyola tussles with Global.

TRANSFER WINDOW (Or not?)


Because of the supposed cancellation of the transfer window, we might not gonna see the men in black of Nomads for the rest of the year. They are having recent off-field issues as of late.

When the league went on a break after July 17, fans are excited also with the upcoming transfer window that will end on the 30th.

But, sad to say, there is no such thing as the transfer window for July. Yup, you heard that right.

Why? FIFA and AFC rules that there is only a maximum of two (2) transfer windows per domestic season. And if we include the July window to open, it’s definitely one more than the requirement.

We already have two transfer windows early in the season, before and after the UFL Cup which ended on April 18.

The cancellation of the window created a rippled effect on all clubs, big or small.

That means the likes of Roland Muller, Jordan Mintah and the rest who jumped ship during the break will not be cleared to play.

Also due to that, there are already unconfirmed reports that Agila, Nomads, and Pasargad will not fulfill the second fixtures for the rest of the season, partly because they cannot make improvements to their side.

But with the schedule being released last week, looks like we have a clue about it.

With that, we can now look forward to every doubleheaders starting on Saturday, with Forza taking on Loyola at 1:45 p.m. and Kaya tries to get its revenge on Voltes at 4 p.m.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada