|United City begins its title defense against the young guns. Dennis Acosta (file photo)|
MANILA--United City FC faces a fresh challenge against the unpredictable Azkals Development Team in the first of two matches on Wednesday in the Philippines Football League that was delayed for a few days due to Typhoon Quinta and COVID-19 cases that were detected inside the league’s “bubble.”
The league got the green light to start its compressed competition at PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite following a meeting with Santa Rosa city mayor Arlene Arcillas as well Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra last Sunday.
PFL commissioner Coco Torre said the league conducted another round of surveillance testing for all six participating clubs last Tuesday after six individuals tested positive from the RT-PCR test upon entering the bubble last Wednesday.
Three more individuals with close contact with one of the infected persons also turned a positive result last Saturday.
Torre said the nine individuals have all been extracted from the bubble and taken to a quarantine facility.
"In the past few days, PFF conducted a surveillance testing to all the six (6) participating clubs,” said Torre. “All results from the testing returned negative. The three players who previously registered positive in the Antigen Rapid Test were also deemed negative following their RT-PCR confirmatory test.”
The UCFC-ADT clash will be a reunion of sorts for United captain Stephan Schrock who played with some of the ADT stars in the Southeast Asian Games.
“It’s a massive challenge and I’m very very happy to see them (ADT) because there are really good quality guys for the future and with Scott Cooper coaching the team, I expect a lot of good things from them since he is also coaching the Azkals,” said Schrock.
The ADT will be led by former UAAP stars Jarvey Gayoso, Mar Diano and Mat Custodio as well as Yrick Gallantes and Christian Rontini, who learned the game in Scotland and Italy, respectively.
Cooper said his squad finds playing against Schrock an honor and a challenge as the Azkals captain is also considered the best player in Southeast Asia.
“I think it’s a great gauge for the ADT players to know what level they are now,” said Cooper. “Our goal is to really develop these players for the future of the national team.”
Kaya-Iloilo and newcomer Maharlika-Manila tangle in the 8 p.m. kickoff.
Kaya-Iloilo FC coach Yu Hoshide his club should not be counted out in the hunt for the championship trophy “because this is what we have been working on since January when we began training.”
On the other hand, Maharlika-Manila FC coach said Roxy Dorlas “although we are a new team, we might aim for a surprise. Our main goals are how to gel our veterans with our new players.”
“We appreciate the collective effort from the PFF, the clubs, and most important, the Games Amusements Board and the city government of Santa Rosa, Laguna led by Mayor Arlene Arcillas.”
“We wish all the six teams in the PFL the best and we are glad to be a part in the resumption of the competition,” GAB chairman Baham Mitra, an avid football fan, said. “We look forward to exciting games in the succeeding days.”
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