Kaya FC-Makati makes UMak its home stadium

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In a press release dated January 11, 2016, Kaya Futbol Club has picked the University of Makati Stadium (UMak) as its home ground in the upcoming Philippines Football League. Furthermore the the Filipino club will now be known as Kaya FC-Makati with the club coming full circle as it was officially founded in the same city in 1996.

UMak has been the spiritual home of Philippine club football, with the United Football League hosting unforgettable matches and sell-out crowds in its growing years. A home and away format in the upcoming league will allow the football fans in the Makati area to watch live football matches every other week. The league will start in the second quarter of the year and the return of UMak in the fold is nothing but good news to the Philippine football community.

Photo from United Football League Philippines (www.uflph.com)

2016 UFL Cup Semifinals Preview

Stallion FC vs Global FC

Players to watch:
STA: Jordan Mintah, Balot Doctora, Ref Cuaresma
GLO: Arthur Kouassi, Serge Kaole, Milan Nikolic

Jordan Mintah came to the quarterfinals with a different mindset, a playmaking one.  The Ghanian did have his fair share of shots but his passing proved to be the difference allowing his teammates to score the crucial goals.  Balot Doctora assisted on the opening goal and scored on the second while getting kicked in the face.  The veteran has played well of late but an injury setback might cause his absence in the semis.  Expect greenhorn Jim Flores to take on an expanded load in his absence.  Ref Cuaresma saved his team from extra time in the quarters and he would need to do it again and more against Global.

Arthur Kouassi was the hero for Global, stepping in and scoring when his team needed the most after being a man down because of Omid Nazari’s sending off.  Kouassi will now be tipped to replace Nazari up front in the semis to test the Stallion backline.  Serge Kaole was super sub in the semis, bringing in the right energy to a rather lackluster Global midfield. Milan Nikolic kept the ship afloat with his steady backline presence eliminating most of the threats that came his way.

Stallion is still unbeaten in the tournament and the test against Green Archers was the first of many if they push through and lift the Cup.  Their defense is suspect, allowing two quality goals from Chieffy Caligdong.  Global meanwhile seems to have a split personality, only picking games where they show their best.  Their match against JP Voltes was a sample of that behavior where they struggled at most parts especially at midfield.  Stallion has the the hard-working players in midfield who take advantage and turn this semifinal to their favor.  However, Global has the advantage in this matchup after having a more consistent backline which did not concede even with the disadvantage.

Advantage: Global FC

 

Ceres-La Salle FC vs Kaya FC

Players to watch:
CER: Adrian Gallardo, Manny Ott, Jeffrey Christaens
KAY: Robert Lopez-Mendy, Joven Bedic, Louis Clark

Robert Lopez-Mendy was a man on a mission in the quarterfinals.  Having missed out on AFC Cup action to documentation issues, the Senegalese player had some unlucky misses upfront but his persistence bore fruit in the end with the winning goal. Joven Bedic has been in fine form this year, playing well in the AFC Cup matches and in the domestic tournament.  The homegrown attacker created plenty of chances and also had some of his own against Loyola.  Louis Clark, who is still recovering from a leg injury, soldiered-on and brought his attacking flair in the second half that almost got him on the score-sheet.  His presence alone stretched the Loyola defense allowing Lopez-Mendy space to score the winner.

Adrian Gallardo played a full game against Forza last Sunday, a necessary move after not playing for a whole two weeks.  The Spanish striker had his moments, scoring a goal, but mainly deferred to his teammates the whole game.  Manny Ott was not present in the quarterfinals, but his performance against North Korea is something to gravely considered as he dominated in the middle of the pitch.  Jeffrey Christaens is in inspired form as of late after the birth of his newborn son.  He was all over the place against Forza, scoring the opener and delivering the next two, and is expected to ride the momentum in the remaining games.

Kaya had the gritty display any football fan would ask from his or her team.  The LBC-backed squad was very unlucky on the offense but was fortunate enough to be extremely lucky on the defense.  Ceres didn’t need the same amount of luck as it breezed through their opponents.

Both teams have had a spectacular first-round form in Asian competition and the UFL Cup Semifinal will decide on who is the better Philippine representative for the AFC Cup.  Ceres is well rested and eager to get back at their tormentors in 2015 while Kaya pushed to their team the limit to get a place in the semifinal.  Ceres will have the slight advantage in this matchup having rested most of its players who are injured or were called for national duty.

Advantage: Ceres-La Salle FC

All Photos are courtesy of the United Football League (www.uflph.com)

Kaya FC decries fake agents, players

In a statement made today on Social Media, Kaya FC publicly denounced fake agents who invite players for supposed trials to the Filipino club and a person who claims to be a former player who’s a victim of roberry.

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It has been reported that fake player agents have forged invitation letters using the Kaya Logo and signatures of Kaya FC current and past coaches.  These notarized letters find their way to Africa, in particularly Ghana, to lure players to the Philippines with a promise of trials that will not happen.  Kaya FC reiterated that only direct communication with management and the coaches are valid and avoid these fake agents

Also included in the announcement is a warning for a person who solicits money from fans in the Rizal Memorial claiming that he was a UFL player who got robbed in a match.  Kaya FC requests that the public be aware of such false claims from these people.

2016 UFL Cup Quarterfinals Preview

Stallion FC vs Green Archers FC

Players to watch:
STA: Jordan Mintah, Fitch Arboleda, Balot Doctora
GAU: Chieffy Caligdong, Gary Epesso, Lee Joo Young

Jordan Mintah is still a reliable goal scoring machine and together with new attacking options in Josh Beloya and Ashley Flores, Stallion will be a different animal to match up with in the quarterfinals. Chieffy Caligdong is leading the way for the Archers as the team’s spark plug, ably supported by influential players such as Garry Epesso and Lee Joo Young. Lee has been playing a more central role, far from his usual wing role while Epesso is the new target man filling in for the spot vacated by Rober Lopez-Mendy.

Stallion has breezed through the competition, topping Group A with an unblemished record of five wins and zero losses. The Gilligans-backed squad had their toughest challenge in the first week against Kaya, scoring a slim 1-0 victory. After which, they completed the eliminations with big wins against lesser squads.

The Archers meanwhile had a difficult elimination round having to face Ceres, Global, and Loyola in the group of death. The Green and White squad would often perform very well in the first hour but would fade in the end allowing their tormentors to snatch the wins from them. This was evident in the games against the higher seeded teams.

Both squads have been the standard bearers for homegrown player development the past two years allowing local talents to shine in the UFL. Stallion has the edge with a more youthful core while the Archers considered the veteran squad. If the Archers can keep up for a full ninety, they can steal this game and move on to the next round. With a long break from tough competition, Stallion FC just needs the correct fitness and focus to progress to the semifinals.

Advantage: Stallion FC

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Loyola FC vs Kaya FC

Players to watch:
LMS: Alvaro Castiella, Jason de Jong, James Younghusband
KAY: Robert Lopez-Mendy, Aly Borromeo, OJ Porteria

Castiella is a phenomenal signing for the Sparks scoring plenty of goals in the group stages.  De Jong is his usual tenacious self providing the coverage and physicality in the midfield.  James Younghusband has been a true captain in the eliminations after filling in on key positions for his team.  Lopez-Mendy has been on a tear in the UFL Cup group stages but his team has learned to play better without him in the UFL Cup.  Aly Borromeo has been silently working his way to goals even as a centerback while Porteria has been on point this season with his shooting and passing.

Loyola came into the Cup knowing full well that the extent of their pre-season injuries would force them to field an untested side. This however was a blessing in disguise as it allowed unknown gems like Kou Belgira to flourish while the team slowly recovered from injuries. The Meralco-backed squad still relied heavily on experienced players like De Jong, Castiella, and James to get the desired results.

Kaya was also a team-in-transition similar to Loyola. The LBC-backed squad started a youth movement with their acquisitions and the weaker Group A allowed these players to familiarize themselves more with their teammates. This was evident in their AFC Cup performances where Kaya has grown overnight and now have six points to show in the first three games.

Loyola has the chance to snatch a win if they get most of their injured players in full fitness including Phil Younghusband who has logged zero game minutes this year.  Kaya though has the clear advantage in this matchup after scoring wins against Asian squads even without Lopez-Mendy and Louis Clark who’s still recovering from an injury.

Advantage: Kaya FC

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JP Voltes FC vs Global FC

Players to watch:
JPV: Masaki Yanagawa, Yu Hoshide, Takashi Odawara
GLO: Omid Nazari, Matthew Hartmann, Daisuke Sato

Yanagawa has been dominating for JP Voltes this season.  After a move from Global with Yu Hoshide, he has been controlling the back while scoring goals for his squad.  Hoshide has been pulling the strings in the group stages as both midfielder and playing coach. Odawara is clearly the team’s best offensive player partnering well with Hoshide to score convincing wins for the Japan-Philippines team.

Newcomer Omid Nazari has shown quality over the group stages and was dangerous together with Matt Hartmann on the attack.  Sato has returned from his Japan trial along with renewed quality and fitness.  His return has made an impact after his team started out slow in this competition.

JP Voltes has won games convincingly against other teams but has clearly struggled against the top clubs in Kaya and Stallion.  Global has been on a tear after beating Ceres convincingly in their final group match.  The renewed hunger from Global makes them hard to beat especially in the money stages.

Advantage: Global FC

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Ceres-La Salle FC vs Forza FC

Players to watch:
CER: Adrian Gallardo, Stephan Shrock, Martin Steuble
FOR: Arvin Gaspe, Kyul Park, Rhon Reyes

2015 UFL League topscorer, Adrian Gallardo has been on a spree lately scoring big goals in the AFC Cup.  Shrock has been as good as advertised while Steuble has on point this season for the Bacolod-based club.  Local Boys Gaspe and Reyes have shown that they are threats while Park has been the consistent bright spot for the Alabang club.

Forza has been lucky to reach the quarterfinals as both of their wins came from opponents’ mistakes such as the own-goal win against Agila MSA and the default of Laos FC.  Ceres will have the luxury to rest their players for the long grind ahead as the knockout stages will only last for eight days.

Advantage: Ceres-La Salle FC

All Photos are courtesy of the United Football League (www.uflph.com)

[Press Release] Confident Kaya Excited to Play in Front of Home Crowd

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Photo courtesy of Kaya FC: OJ Porteria addresses the media

Kaya FC is all set for their first ever AFC Cup home game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, with kickoff against the Maldives’ New Radiant scheduled at 7:30pm tomorrow (March 8). Despite being debutants in the competition, the Philippine side is not being taken lightly in the tournament, with the opposition going as far as to label Kaya the favorites in Group F.

“I’m thinking that Kaya is the best team in the group. Others will just be fighting for second place,” said Iordan Stoykov, New Radiant head coach. “I think we have to show our best efforts to resist them and to achieve the acceptable result.”
Despite suffering defeat at the hands of Kitchee in their first AFC Cup outing, Kaya showed their ability to compete on the regional stage. Whether the notion of being front runners is shared by the members of the club, however, will be dictated by how the team does on Tuesday, and in the home game against Balestier Khalsa next week.
“I’m not sure yet,” said coach Joel Villarino on being labeled favorites. “If we win tomorrow, maybe it’s true,” he added with a smile.
OJ Porteria took a similar stance, opting to allow the results to do the talking.
“I have confidence in our team, in our coaching staff, and our management. But just like coach said, we will see tomorrow and in the next games. We need to prove ourselves. We can’t just listen to what he said.”
“I think we’re very confident, but we also have respect for each and everyone in our group,” said the midfielder. “There’s no game in the AFC that will be easy for us, so we will approach it like every other game. Just like [we did with] Kitchee, we will approach New Radiant and Balestier [the same way] as well.
Porteria is also looking forward to a change in scenery after enduring a fiery atmosphere in Hong Kong against Kitchee.
“The support of the Philippine fans [will be the biggest difference],” said OJ. “It’s our home game so we have to perform to the best of our abilities. I think we had a great match in Hong Kong and we’re just going to use that momentum against New Radiant and hopefully we’ll get the win.”
According to coach Joel, the tempo of the match will be a major component to deciding the outcome.
“The key factor is speed,” said coach Villarino. ” I think we will just stick to the plan. What happened there in Hong Kong was a good game. We will adjust a little more in our transitions from defense to attack and vice versa, and our speed.”
Tomorrow’s game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium will be aired LIVE on ABS CBN Sports+Action, with kickoff between Kaya FC and New Radiant scheduled at 7:30pm.

2016 UFL Cup Match Week 4

Things have settled in Match week 4 of the 2016 UFL Cup and the results provided plenty of talking points in the Philippines’ first club tournament this year.

Ceres-La Salle FC 3 – 2 Green Archers United FC

After coming off a tough 2-2 draw against Selangor, Coach Ali Go opted to rotate his players against the Archers featuring a different starting eleven. The Archers meanwhile where parading stand-in coach in Hans-Peter Smit.  The DLSU mentor stood in for Coach Rodolfo Alicante and Team Manager Monchu Garcia who were both unavailable.  Ceres as expected were controlling possession and shots but the Archers were in keen on getting a result to improve their standings for the quarterfinals.  The result however was not in their favor as Chieffy Caligdong’s deficit-cutting goal was not enough.  The Archers will be facing top seed Kaya in the quarterfinals while Ceres will take on surprise quarterfinalists Forza in a month’s time.

JP Voltes FC 0 – 4 Kaya FC

After succumbing to a soft penalty in Hong Kong, the reigning champions turned their ire to the upstarts in JP Voltes. Coach Chris Greatwich stuck to his AFC Cup eleven, a full change to his experiments in the previous games.  Kaya came out swinging and the Japanes-Filipino team just couldn’t keep up. JP Voltes missed their starting centerbacks in Camelo Tacusalme and Masaki Yanagawa to various reasons and it showed in the game.  Voltes leaked four goals far from their 1-2 performance against the group leading Stallion.

Loyola FC 0 – 2 Global FC

It seems like the new look Global squad is already settling in and it showed against Loyola. Newcomers in Kofi Kouassi, Milan Nikolic, Serge Kaole, and Omid Nazari are fitting in well with the mainstays en route to the win.  The Sparks however are just trying to get their gears back after a wave of injuries have hit the team at the start of the cup.  The orange men are awaiting the return of Simon Greatwich and Phil Younghusband who are expected to suit up in their final group match.  Global played with urgency against Loyola, unlike their first three games where they seemed to be uninterested at most times.  The return of talismanic defender Daisuke Sato may have had a positive  effect to the squad.  The Azkals player is one of the leaders in the squad and his presence may have rubbed off the right way.

Forza FC 1 – 9 Stallion FC

Stallion Coach Ernie Nierras shuffled his squad allowing players like GK Andrew Tan and Bo Bae Park to start the match. Forza meanwhile still had most of their bench playing in the UAAP and stuck with the same first eleven.  The Alabang squad were unlucky to lose their starting keeper after a red card which meant that Stallion were gonna run away as winners. The Gilligans-backed squad is expected to top group A arranging a quarterfinal showdown with Green Archers.

Nomads FC 0 -4 Pasargad FC

In a battle of the bottom teams in a stacked Group B, Pasargad finally earned a deserving win in this years UFL Cup.  Scoring against Loyola was a mean feat and Pasargad finally had the chance to strut their stuff.  Mohammed Camara may have scored the goals but their most exciting player in Jangobah “Magic” Johnson is someone to watch out for if they join the league.  Nomads passed on their final chance for a win in this tournament, a tournament that they should forget.  Playing against the big boys is tough and having a developmental team in tow may cause more harm than good to the young players.

Agila MSA FC 1 – 1 Laos FC

The result meant that both teams are eliminated from the quarterfinals.  Agila was particularly impressive in this UFL Cup as they have shown discipline against the tougher teams in most parts of the games.  Laos was a disappointment in this tournament, highlighted by their defaulted match against Forza.  Gone was the magic in winning Division 2 last year and the transfer window this April will be their only chance to make amends.