By Mike T. Limpag
Thursday, September 15, 2011
THE country’s premier league—United Football League (UFL)—just got bigger.
Cebuano football fans will now have something to look forward to in the UFL with the entry of the Cebu Queen City United in the UFL Cup, which will start on Oct. 8 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and the University of Makati Pitch.
Raffy Musni, the team coordinator of the Cebu Amateur Football Club (CAFC), will fly to Manila today to attend the manager’s meeting and for the draw of the UFL Cup, which has attracted 28 teams so far.
They will also submit their P25,000 entry fee and the 25-man initial lineup today and though they will have until Sept. 30 to hand in their final roster.
The UFL recently signed a five-year P150-million deal with TV 5.
“I’m excited to see the quality of Cebu footballers and the growth of interest of fans in Cebu,” UFL’s Santi Araneta told Sun.Star Cebu.
Araneta, who met CAFC officers last week, said Cebu’s entry will increase the overall ratings of the UFL.
“We believe that their quality will land them a spot in the league and hopefully, in the first division in a year or two. I also believe that they will set the trend for the other regions to follow,” Araneta said.
The team will be led by coach Mario Ceniza with assistant coaches Dennis Peñalosa, Hayato Ayabe, Allan Medalle and Frederick Alazas.
Ceniza has been conducting tryouts since Wednesday said the top priority is the conditioning of the players since most of them haven’t played in a competitive tournament in months.
“As of now, on a scale of one to 10, their conditioning is at 2 or three,” said
Ceniza, who has less than a month to get the players in shape.
Among those who showed up for the tryouts are former PH U17 team member Junard Aguilar, who topped the fitness test, and high school standout Blui Arriola.
Ceniza said he would have wanted to tap Cebu-based former national team members Arni Pasenabo and Joshua Fegidero but both have commitments with UFL clubs.
“I told the players to forget whatever they learned or what their usual practice is in their clubs because this is a different level. Whoever makes the 25, they must all be fit to play in the first 11,” Ceniza said.
Ceniza also said he hopes to address their goalkeeping problem since of the three keepers they have identified, one can’t attend regular practice due to his job as a police officer, the other doesn’t have the experience and the third is out-of-shape.
To help address that problem, Dakay is planning to meet with Global FC team owner Dan Palami, who has earlier promised to lend Paolo Pascual to a Cebu team that joins the UFL.
Pascual, one of the goalkeepers in the Under-23 training pool, is under contract with Global FC.
The club is also open to the possibility of getting the services of former national team members Chad Gould and Leigh Gunn who are based abroad but trace their roots in Cebu.
“We still have until Sept. 30 and we still have some wiggle room,” said Dakay.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 16, 2011.