The highest level of Philippine club football returns on February 7 with the start of the UFL’s League competition. Regarded as the most difficult and grueling tournament to win in the UFL season, Filipino football fans have been eagerly anticipating how their favorite clubs will kickoff their campaigns after the three-month layoff following the FA League Cup.
To add even more stature to the six-month long League, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has officially confirmed that the tournament champions will effectively qualify for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup group stages – an honor earned by Global after clinching last season’s League title in emphatic fashion.
Although Global carry the prestige of being defending champions, and the first ever Filipino club to participate in the AFC Cup group stages, the Leigh Manson-coached side has had to endure some heartbreaks in their last two competitions. Most recently, they fell short against Loyola Meralco Sparks in the final of the PFF National Club Championship, compounding their woes after a disappointing defeat to Ceres-La Salle in the final of the FA League Cup last November. But with the Suzuki Cup and the PFF Nationals now out of the way, the titleholders have the opportunity to focus all their attentions on defending their crown.
Global begin their League campaign against Green Archers United in the final match on opening day. Newly promoted sides Ceres-La Salle and Manila Jeepney clash to start proceedings, with Kaya seeing action against Philippine Army shortly after, in what is an action-packed triple-header to kickoff the competition.
Much like the FA League Cup, which effectively got the ball rolling for the 2014-15 season, the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium will be the venue for most of the League’s matches, which take place primarily on Saturdays, Sundays, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
10 clubs make up the First Division of the League, with each side looking to amass as many points as possible in a double round format. Every win amounts to three points for the triumphant team, with every draw splitting a point between both sides. A champion can only be crowned once the League leader’s points total is mathematically beyond what any other club can reach in the division. With such a format, the competition crowns the club that best handles the rigors of an entire 6-month long campaign, rather than the team running hot during a shorter knockout competition. The team that finishes at the bottom of the First Division gets relegated to the Second Division, while the second tier’s champion moves up to the big leagues.
Saturday, February 7 Matches: Rizal Memorial Football Stadium
2:15pm – Ceres – La Salle FC v Manila Jeepney FC
5:15pm – Kaya FC v Phil. Army FC
8:15pm – Global FC v Green Archers United FC