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Defending champs Cebu placed in 'group of death' with Taguig, Iloilo squads in Kampeon Cup prelims

The stage is set for the return of the AIA Kampeon Cup. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--Reigning champion Cebu will have a tough grind ahead to start its title defense bid in the AIA Kampeon Cup after the team found out which teams it will face first in the tournament's return in Bacolod this weekend.

Following the group draw on Monday at the Studio 300 Bowling Center here, Cebu has been placed in the same group as the teams representing Taguig and Iloilo.

Taguig has been the longtime home of the Kampeon Cup's mother league, the AIA 7's Football League, and the Anton Del Rosario-led squad is bringing in a tough lineup which includes two footballers also playing in the PFL in hopes of avenging its 2019 championship game defeat to Cebu at home.

Iloilo, on the other hand, has been a perennial football hotbed, which basically means Group B could be tagged as the "group of death".

"Malakas yung dalawang teams kasi nandoon yung parang Visayas Derby, Cebu at saka Iloilo, plus BGC Manila," Cebu coach Bing Colina told Dugout Philippines following the group draw.

He also believes the Taguig squad will be the team to beat this year as the Kampeon Cup makes its return following the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Yung team to beat is yung BGC pa rin kasi malawak yung selection ng players nila na makikita," Colina further said.

According to Colina, the team's lineup will be completely different from the 2019 squad that won it all, which makes the title defense even tougher, not to mention he is now based in Metro Manila.

However, he believes his club has a chance against Team Iloilo.

"I think Iloilo also has a short time to practice," Colina added, further saying that the 7's Football League Iloilo leg is still ongoing, which could make its All-Star Team practice tougher to hold.

On the other hand, host team Bacolod will have cross-provincial rival San Carlos and Pampanga in the other prelims group, Group A.

It was revealed, though, that former Ceres Negros captain and current Azkals Development Team playing coach Stephan Schrock will be joining Bacolod for the tournament, giving the team a much-needed boost as the club defends its turf.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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