27 February 2021

Takashi Odawara leaves United City, signs with Maldives club


Japanese midfielder Takasha Odawara has become the latest athlete to leave reigning Philippines Football League champions, United City.

The pro club announced Saturday that the 28-year-old has departed the team for Maziya Sports & Recreation Club.

“UCFC is announcing the departure of Takashi Odawara and would like to thank him for his contributions in helping us win the 2020 PFL Championship,” read the statement.

“We will miss you but wish you and your family well with your new club, Maziya S&RC from the Dhivehi Premier League in Maldives.”

Odawara first landed on Philippine shores back in 2015 when he signed with JP Voltes to compete in the defunct United Football League. Following his stint with JPV, he then moved to Davao Aguilas in 2018.

His most successful time in local football, though, came a year later as he transferred to Ceres-Negros, with whom he won the 2019 PFL and Copa Paulino Alcantara titles.

With Ceres-Negros changing its identity to United City following the takeover of MMC Sportz Marketing LLC from longtime benefactor Leo Rey Yanson, Odawara stayed with the new management and was part of the squad that won the 2020 PFL crown during its bubble tournament at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.

This development is another blow to United City as it gears up to compete in the 2021 AFC Champions League group stage this April where they will be up against China’s Beijing Guoan, Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale and the winner between South Korea’s Daegu FC and Thailand’s Chiangrai United.

Also leaving the team were Robert Lopez Mendy (who signed with Preah Khan Reach), Manny Ott (Melaka United), Dennis Villanueva (Nakhon Ratchasima), and OJ Porteria (Ratchaburi).

Stephan Schrock has yet to announce a decision on his future.


Azkals manager Scott Cooper given contract extension by PFF


SCOTT Cooper has agreed to a contract extension with the Philippine Azkals following an agreement with the Philippine Football Federation.

Terms were not disclosed but the Azkals have big plans with Cooper in charge as the country eyes a return trip to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

Cooper has been with the Azkals for the last two years as the senior advisor, but took the head coaching position during the qualifiers for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

“I think the team has improved under him and we look forward to him taking the team to another level,” said PFF president Mariano ‘Nonong’ Araneta.

The Azkals are in third place in Group A behind Syria and China in the qualification table for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup. The Philippines had a scoreless draw with China and a 0-1 defeat to Syria last year.

Azkals team manager Dan Palami said the bigger goal for the squad is coming up with a strong bid to qualify for the 2026 Fifa World Cup.

“We trust that coach Scott can take the team into where we want it to be,” said Palami. “It is just unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic stopped our momentum, but we have set what we feel our realistic goals for the team in the future.”

Despite the pandemic, the Englishman, who had notable stints as manager for clubs in Thailand and Indonesia, has been busy reaching out to the national team players.

Cooper has also been keeping an eye on future talents, with the launch of the Azkals Development Team. Jarvey Gayoso, Mar Diano, and Lance Ocampo are among the players making a mark with the ADT.

“When I first came here, I saw the massive potential of the Azkals,” said Cooper. “During this pandemic, we’ve been setting goals and putting plans in place to achieve those goals. I can honestly say that we can still get better and I am committed to lead this team as it continues to make its mark in Asian and world football.”


12 February 2021

2 teams to join PFL




Two new teams are on the verge of joining the Philippine Football League (PFL) in its fifth season in May.

PFL commissioner Coco Torre confirmed that Loyola FC and Laos FC are currently in the process of working on their license to operate as a team and compete in the country’s top-flight football league this year.

“Two teams have already sent their letter of intention — Loyola and Laos. Actually, Laos is already fixing its licensure requirements,” Torre said.

“We have also scheduled a meeting with Loyola next week. Of course, we want to have a longer commitment.”

Loyola FC is no longer considered as a new face in the local circuit after competing in the United Football League (UFL) in the past.

In fact, it is one of the founding clubs of the PFL in 2017, but left the league the following year.

Laos FC, on the other hand, is also no stranger to local football as it saw action in the UFL Division 2 in 2015.

But due to the success of the bubble season at the Philippine Football Center in Carmona, Cavite last October, the league drew significant attention from sponsors and potential team owners.

Last year, the PFL welcomed the application of Maharlika Manila FC of former national team star Anton del Rosario as well as the Azkals Development Team of noted football manager Dan Palami.

With the looming participation of the Loyola FC and Laos FC, Torres said he sees a major boost to their stability as one of the professional leagues in the country.

“What’s great is that even during this pandemic, we still see progress and interest from many teams. We will be seeing a very stable and growing league,” Torre said.

“We have to be patient in adding teams because we are still in this time of uncertainty.”


05 February 2021

Fans to Expect Changes to Kaya’s Lineup this Offseason

 Kaya FC-Iloilo General Manager Paul Tolentino hinted at a roster shake up ahead of the fast approaching start of the 2021 season.

“There will be a couple [of] changes. Who they are and what they are, we’re still working on right now,” he said. “We still have a decent core of our players that will stick around. In the next few weeks, maybe months, we’ll be able to share little by little who these new players are going to be and which players are going to be staying around as well.”

Having only played eight matches in the entirety of 2020, Kaya are eager to return to a more busy schedule. The team went undefeated in all competitions under Yu Hoshide’s guidance, but narrowly missed out on a first Philippines Football League Title. Although there was no silverware at the end of his first year in charge, the Japanese coach’s bold style of play yielded enough promising moments to suggest that with more time, the team could turn a new and exciting corner.

With the club’s first taste of Champions League football set for April 7, when they take on Australia’s Brisbane Roar in the Preliminary Round, the players to be signed and retained will be participating in Kaya’s first ever run in Asia’s premier competition.

“It’s always been the goal and the target since I took the Kaya job to qualify for the AFC Champions League,” said Tolentino “I’m really excited for the guys. I want them to get a taste of that level of competition and I feel confident that our guys will compete to the best of their ability and give Brisbane Roar a real challenge.”


31 January 2021

Philippines to play FIFA World Cup home matches in China ?

Philippines remaining three World Cup qualifying matches might be played in June in China !

Philippines is scheduled to play  Guam at home on March 25 and China away  on June 7 , then Maldives at home on June 15.

Guam match may be moved to June and then all three matches will be played in a centralized venue in China !

Loyola Fc : We're unstoppable now !

 Loyola ready for PFL ?


Laos FC is also expected to join PFL this season.

30 January 2021

United City, Kaya FC looking forward to AFC competitions

 by Paolo Del Rosario

The best of Philippine club football have been grouped with some of the biggest clubs in the continent for the 2021 edition of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League and Cup.

Philippine representatives United City FC (UCFC) and Kaya FC discovered their respective fates after the official draw on Wednesday afternoon.

United City is the first Filipino club to earn a direct ticket to the AFC Champions League Group Stage, where they will make their debut in Group I. The Philippines Football League (PFL) champions were drawn alongside J1 League champions Kawasaki Frontale, CSL runner-up Guangzhou, and a yet to be determined play-off winner.

UCFC co-founder Eric Gottschalk acknowledged his team is matched up against some of the best clubs in the region, but insisted they aren't there to make up the numbers.

"We deserve to be playing on this level," Gottschalk told ESPN5.com. "It will come down to if we are going to be able to be well prepared from a training and fitness aspect before the first match."

"If we don't think we have a chance then we would not enter the competition. We are not going there for a photo op, we are going there to play football and to win," he added.

Gottschalk conceded getting a positive result would be difficult against the 'powerhouses of Asian football', but believes they have the ability to make some noise in the biggest club competition in the continent.

"If this is possible at the end (beating their opponents in the group stage), we don't know. Look at the competition and the opposition that we're facing," Gottschalk said. "But at the same time if we don't think that we can win then let's save the money and all stay home."

While UCFC is the only Philippine club with a direct slot into the Champions League Group Stages, Kaya FC have a shot at making the dance as well.

To qualify the PFL runners-up must survive a pair of stern tests in the preliminary stages. Kaya is slated to tackle the Brisbane Roar of Australia on April 7 for a chance to face Chinese club Beijing FC in the play-off a week later.

While it will be a difficult road to the Champions League, Kaya GM Paul Tolentino is hopeful they could barge into the Group Stages.

"We're excited to get the AFC Cup 2021 going, but before that, we should be allowed to dream," Tolentino said in a statement. "Let's go Brisbane, let's go Beijing!"

Should Kaya fall short of qualifying for the Champions League they will be relegated to the AFC Cup, where they have been sorted into Group I. Awaiting Kaya in the AFC Cup are Shan United or Ayeyawady United of Myanmar, Terengganu of Malaysia, and Geylang International of Singapore.

"We're especially excited that we potentially get the chance to play against our former striker who is at Terangganu FC," Tolentino said. "We know Shan United quite a bit, we played them last year and we'll be looking forward to playing them again. Geylang will be a new opponent for us. However, we are quite familiar with the clubs in Singapore."

Both the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup are slated to be played in centralized venues from April 21 to May 7 and June 22 to 28, respectively.


29 January 2021

Kaya FC Iloilo Drawn into Group I of the AFC Cup 2021

 Earlier today, the AFC Cup 2021 Draw took place virtually at the Asian Football Confederation House in Kuala Lumpur. Filipino club Kaya FC-Iloilo were drawn into Group I of the competition, where they will face Shan United FC or Ayeyawady United FC from Myanmar, Terengganu FC from Malaysia, and Geylang International FC from Singapore. The group stages are scheduled for June 22-28 at a centralized location soon to be finalized.

Even from his living room, General Manager Paul Tolentino represented Kaya today and expressed his excitement over the results of the draw.

“We’re especially excited that we potentially get the chance to play against our former striker who is at Terangganu FC. We know Shan United quite a bit, we played them last year and we’ll be looking forward to playing them again. Geylang will be a new opponent for us. However, we are quite familiar with the clubs in Singapore.”

In Terrengganu, not only will Kaya possibly face former striker Jordan Mintah (PFL Golden Boot Winner in 2019), but also Philippine international and former Ceres Negros mainstay Carli de Murga. Meanwhile, Shan United would prove to be an interesting rematch, as the Burmese Champions look to avenge their 2-0 loss in last year’s group stage. Kaya could also face Geylang for the first time, with the Singaporean club playing in their first AFC Cup since 2010.

“Really interesting group and excited to play AFC Cup again,” said Kaya head coach Yu Hoshide. “Burmese and Singaporean clubs are familiar for us but we don’t know a lot about Malaysian clubs, which will make it a nice experience too. Preparation will be the key to winning, so we will try our best to push for the title.”

2021 would mark the 4th AFC Cup run in Kaya FC’s history. Previously, the club exited in the knockout round in 2016, then failed to progress from the group stage in 2019, before having their 2020 slate prematurely halted due to the pandemic. This year, the Iloilo side look to pick up where they left off last season when they went undefeated in all three of their matches before play was suspended.

However, all of this will be irrelevant if Kaya can manage to gate crash the Champions League with consecutive upsets in the qualifying round. The preliminary stages feature a key match against Australia’s Brisbane Boar, the winner of which will then face China’s Beijing FC.

“We’re excited to get the AFC Cup 2021 going, but before that, we should be allowed to dream,” added Tolentino. “Let’s go Brisbane, let’s go Beijing!”

Should the club pull off the two wins, instead of playing in the AFC Cup, Kaya will join the continent’s elite in the AFC Champions League Group Stage, which will be held in April.