It felt like Christmas morning when I received a copy of this years UFL competition schedule. Seven months of loaded domestic and international football was too much to take-in in one go, so I decided to break it down for all of you.
UFL Division 1
UFL Division 1 will headline a complete 10-team cast for the highest level of Philippine League football.
The Ten First Division teams are:
Ceres-La Salle FC
Loyola-Meralco Sparks FC
Manila Jeepney FC
Philippine Army FC
Green Archers United FC
Team Socceroo FC
Division 1 starts on February 7 with the final games on August 16, 2015. It will be a total of six months of action with a break in between rounds from April 19 to May 30. The break would be used by the UFL for its All-Star Break and also on the start of the youth competition in the summer. Both rounds will have the same order of opponents which will be highlighted by the games from the Big Four (Kaya, Ceres, Global, and Loyola). All games will be played in the RMC with no provincial games set in the schedule.
UFL Division 2
UFL Division 2 will only have 7 participants with new side Kabuscorp de Laguna FC and returnees Mendiola FC 1991. Division two will run with the first division but will finish earlier due to the number of teams. All games will be played in the RMC.
The Seven Second Division Teams are:
Kabuscorp de Laguna FC
JP Voltes FC
Mendiola FC 1991
The initial schedule if the cup was created for eight groups of four teams (32 teams in total). Realistically, there are only 17 teams for the UFL so theres a chance for other clubs to join the Cup. The Cup may also be shortened in the group stages if the ideal number of participants are not met.
The best feature for me was the interweaving of both the League and Cup Competitions in the schedule. April 28 marks the Cup’s first day for the Group Stages with the Final on Aug 22, a week after the League ends. This is good as there is the incentive of still winning a major competition even if the League is settled early.
The AFC Cup
Ceres will play on Feb 17 against Maziya FC in the Maldives. If they win, they will already travel to India to meet Bengaluru FC for the first Group stage match. Global and Ceres will play six home and away matches with their games playing on different dates for every game which opens a possibility of TV coverages. All games will happen midweek and home stadia are Panaad and Rizal Memorial for Ceres and Global respectively. The group stages of the AFC Cup will end on the mid of May.
Beyond the schedule
There are no schedules indicated for activities after the League and Cup so I’m assuming that a mini tournament, probably the second installment of the FA League Cup will be done in the latter parts of the year.
The Local Supercup, match between League and Cup winners, match date is not yet part of the schedule but will undoubtedly happen.
Qualification beyond the round of 16 of the AFC Cup is unknown as only the Round of 16 match schedule is set on May the 26th. We will still see if out local teams progress to the next level.
The Schedule was well thought of and the fans will mostly be happy with it. The schedule seems to be a bit busy for Global and Ceres but there is enough rest days in between for match and travel recovery.
The full schedule will be available in the UFL Website (ufl.ph).