Drama, family feuds and a whole lotta football.
The UFL Cup is set for kick off after an exciting draw.
piece and pic by rick olivares
Let’s get it on!
If the results of the main draw for the group stages of the 2012 UFL Cup say anything, football fans are in for a treat for some battle royales and inter-family warfare.
Let us count the ways…
Group A: Global, Pasargad, Navy, General Trias, Team Socceroo.
Global and Pasargad are arguably two of the hottest teams in the league. Both came on very strong in the second round of league play. They’ll both be favorites to advance to the next stage.
Navy would love nothing more than to salvage old glory following their relegation to Division Two this season. Unfortunately for them, they lost a lot of their players to other clubs. The deceptively named General Trias is one of the guest teams that made it through the qualifiers. The club is wholly Korean and is based in Cavite City but don’t expect them to play Gangnam style as they look to challenge all takers. Team Socceroo had a terrible cup showing last season but came on strong in league play. Despite the loss of key players, they look to perform better this cup competition.
Group B: Kaya, Green Archers United, Diliman, Forza, Dolphins United.
Perhaps the lightest bracket of the group stages. Kaya and Green Archers have beefed up while Diliman has somewhat been defanged with the loss of many of its top players to Pachanga. Forza and Dolphins United will challenge with the latter being a tougher side but the gap between them and the two Division One teams – Kaya and Green Archers – is simply too massive.
Barring any upsets, Kaya and Green Archers should advance.
Group C: Loyola, Nomads, Pachanga, Laos, Mendiola.
This year’s “group of death” falls to Group C with Loyola, Nomads, Pachanga, Laos, and come backing Mendiola. The first three clubs are all Division One squads while Mendiola was literally the second placer of the first Smart Club Championship.
It might be a little tougher on Loyola as their UFL Cup play will also coincide with their participation in the 2012 Singapore Cup semifinals. Their problem was the lack of depth last season. Now they will be tested as they will no doubt will their first team in both competitions.
Nomads… if they are able to practice regularly can beat any UFL team. The operative word being “if”. But they’ve been beefed up by some of their Team B players and that should help.
Should Pachanga get its act together they are a potential powerhouse team. Still they’ll be a tough team to play.
Mendiola is the dark horse team here. What drives them? Does wanting to prove that they belong in top-flight football after being suspended for a year count?
Laos is not the team it once was. But who knows?
Loyola and Pachanga should advance to the next stage.
Group D: Stallion, Air Force, Army, Sta. Lucia, Agila.
Talk about family feud right here. Group D is four-fifths an all-family affair with Stallion, defending champion Air Force, Army, and Sta. Lucia owing its roots to Iloilo. Agila is the one outsider here.
You think they will all go easy on one another? No freaking way.
We’re it not for the late freefall of Army in last year’s league play, this would be a second group of death. Any maybe it is.
Look at it this way – Stallion is every bit of an elite club – foreign players, a token Azkals with some former national players, and a K-Pop contingent from Iloilo. All the other clubs are more of the homegrown variety with a lot of things to prove.
Air Force would love to find the form they showed when they captured the cup in scintillating fashion last year. Army is swimming against the tides of change. Sta. Lucia is Stallion’s Team B but don’t tell that to them. They have many players who suited up for Stallion, Pachanga, and other clubs last season and they’ll want to go out and prove that they deserve to play in Division One.
Stallion and Air Force should emerge from the internecine warfare to go to the next stage.
The top two clubs that survive the group stages will move into a crossover knockout format in the quarterfinals.
QF1: Group A winner vs. Group B second placer
QF2: Group B winner vs. Group C second placer
QF3: Group C winner vs. Group D second placer
QF4: Group D winner vs. Group A second placer
The winners of the quarterfinals go to knockout semifinals and will be matched up as follows:
SF1: winner of QF1 vs. winner of QF3
SF2: winner ofQF2 vs. winner of QF4
The winners of the semis stage will play for the championship while the losing squads figure in the battle for third place.
The group stages competition of the 2012 UFL Cup will kick off on October 2 at 5pm at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium with Kaya taking on Green Archers United while Global and Pasargad figure in the main match of the doubleheader.
Matches to look out for in this 2012 UFL Cup
Matches to look out for in this 2012 UFL Cup