31 July 2020

Cooper sees tournament postponement as chance to bolster Azkals


Philippine Azkals coach Scott Cooper believes the postponement of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup from November to next year is the correct decision, even as he intends to maximize the time to plan and build a squad that will finally end the country’s wait for a title in the regional tournament.
Reacting to the AFF’s announcement on the postponement of the competition due to the COVID-19 situation, Cooper said the rescheduling of the tournament was understandable because of the logistical demands of the tournament.

“While it’s really disappointing because the Suzuki Cup is for Southeast Asian pride and it’s a well regarded tournament where everybody competes at the full extent, we also have to consider that the Suzuki Cup is not like other tournaments,” Cooper said.

“There’s a lot of traveling in between the two group stages, semifinals and the finals so there’s a lot of logistics that the AFF has to consider so I actually understand the decision.”
In a statement released last Thursday night, AFF said the health and safety of the players, coaches, partners, fans and public are of the highest priority.
“Since the onset of COVID-19, the AFF has been closely monitoring guidance from the World Health Organization, Health Ministries, government agencies, Fifa and AFC,” AFF president major general Khiev Sameth said.
“This pandemic continues to pose enormous health, societal and economic challenges to us all. AFF’s top priority continues to be the health and safety of our football family and mitigating the impact of this pandemic. With the risk of the spread of COVID-19 remaining high, the AFF finds itself in a situation where we cannot proceed safely with the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020.”
Cooper said he intends to use the delay to further strengthen plans to bolster the Philippine squad, half of which plays in the Thai League.
“From the Philippines’ perspective, we have a chance to keep improving like we have been and be even more ready for next year,” Cooper said. “We will take this [postponement] in a positive way given that we can continue to plan, continue to build and see what we can do with players who will be involved going forward.”
“This postponement will benefit us.”

Read more: https://sports.inquirer.net/399985/cooper-sees-tournament-postponement-as-chance-to-bolster-azkals#ixzz6ToPgRlxW

Football: PFF optimistic United City FC will be allowed to play in AFC Cup

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is optimistic that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will allow United City FC to keep its place in the 2020 AFC Cup.
United City FC is the new name of Ceres-Negros FC, one of two teams along with Kaya-Iloilo representing the Philippines in the continental competition. 
The club was renamed after a new ownership group acquired Ceres-Negros from Leo Rey Yanson, the previous owner.
"We have to write to AFC (and tell them), this is the same team, except (with new) owners," PFF president Mariano "Nonong" Araneta said. 
"There's a change in ownership, but it's basically the same team, with the same players. It's just a change of ownership," he added. "And I think AFC will agree to that, that it's just a change of the name itself, but the club is still the same as far as the competition is concerned."
Before the competition came to a halt because of the global coronavirus pandemic, Ceres-Negros had been leading the way in Group G of the AFC Cup with seven points on two wins and a draw. 
Kaya-Iloilo was in second in Group H, with five points on a win and two draws.
"We want them (United City FC) to represent us in the AFC Cup," Araneta said. "The groupings are already determined."
"Hopefully, there is no disruption in the schedule, because we are putting up not a new team, but the same team with a different name," he added.
Araneta also expressed his gratitude to the United City FC ownership, represented by MMC Sportz Asia chief executive Eric Gottschalk, for investing in the club.
"When Ceres advised us that there might be a chance that they will not participate anymore, it was really a big letdown. Fortunately, Eric's group came in and talked to the Ceres people, and it went well," he said.
"We would like to thank Ceres. They have been here in the Philippine football scene for so many years, and they have represented the country in Asia," he added.
Gottschalk, for his part, credited the previous ownership group for the smooth transfer. Yanson had agreed to sell not just the team, but its license as well, and thus it was not necessary for Gottschalk and his group to apply for a new one.
"(If we had) to apply for a new license… we would not have been able to participate this year in the league and the AFC Cup," he explained. "The players and the staff would not have been able to play football over the next few months. Thank you very much to Mr. Yanson and his team." 

30 July 2020

United City FC - Signings

United City FC
Confirmed signed - Updated : 1. Stephan Schröck 2. OJ Porteria 3. Sean Kane 4. Ron Bayan 5. Jun Badelic 6. Angelo Marasigan 7. Robert Mendy 8. Arnie Pasinabo
9. Tristan Robbles

28 July 2020

Schrock now has dual role at United


Back in his hometown in Schweinfurt, Germany, Azkals captain Stephan Schrock had been pondering his next career move the last few weeks following the decision of Ceres-Negros to transfer its ownership to new investors

There were offers from clubs from more established leagues in Germany, Thailand and even South Korea, but the two-time Mr. Football of the Philippine Sportswriters Association always felt he could do more if he played in the Philippines, making his decision easy.
The 33-year-old Schrock decided on Wednesday to stay in the Philippines Football League with United City FC (UCFC), the new club that took over the Ceres-Negros franchise.

“I’m excited to help a newly formed club,” Schrock told the Inquirer. “I had offers from many different leagues, but the talks with general manager Ace Bright and the new management were fruitful and promising.”Schrock will not only serve as captain of the club, but also be part of the coaching staff as an assistant.
The signing of Schrock augurs well for the club, which has also secured the commitment of 15 other players from the Ceres squad, including top scorer Bienvenido Marañon.
“Having Stephan commit to staying at the new club means a lot not just to the organization but also to the fans,” UCFC cofounder Eric Gottschalk said.
“He is the captain and the leader of the team and that is what is needed especially since we are trying to establish our new identity on and off the field.”Since it will be taking over Ceres’ spot, UCFC remains in contention in the 2020 AFC Cup, where it currently leads its group that includes Bali United, Than Quang Ninh of Vietnam and Svay Rieng of Cambodia. The AFC has scheduled the group stage to be played in late September in Vietnam.
“We had many talks over the past few weeks and Stephan is very clear where he wants to go: He wants to be able to compete at the highest level and be able to win more titles but he also wants to prepare for his second career once he steps off the field—so our objectives are aligned perfectly well,” Gottschalk said.
“For the 2020 season, Stephan will not only lead the team on the field as captain but also off the field as a playing-assistant coach as a first step to fulfill his ambition to become a fully certified football coach in the coming years.” INQ

Read more: https://sports.inquirer.net/399724/schrock-now-has-dual-role-at-united#ixzz6TWSLEKY8

25 July 2020

Northern comfort for SEA Games football events

HANOI (25 July 2020) – The Organising Committee of the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam next year has chosen several venues in the north for the various football events that will be contested at the biennial meet.
Two stadiums in Hanoi – My Dinh National Stadium and the Hang Day Stadium – and also another in nearby Nam Dinh Province (Thien Truong Stadium) have been chosen to host the men’s football event.
The iconic My Dinh National Stadium will host all matches of the home team where they will also be the venue for the two semifinals and final game.
The Cam Pha Stadium in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh will be the sole venue for the Women’s Football event.
Futsal will be held at a sports complex in the northern province of Ha Nam.
Vietnam are the defending champions of both the men and women’s football events while Futsal was not contested in the Philippines in 2019.
The 31st edition of the SEA Games will be held on 21 November to 2 December 2021 in Hanoi and 10 other provinces.

United City FC replaces Ceres Negros

MMC Sportz Asia announced yesterday that it led a group of private investors that will take over Ceres Negros Football Club for the upcoming Philippines Football League (PFL) season.
The club will now be known as United City Football Club, although it was not disclosed if it will still represent Bacolod for the PFL and the AFC Cup.
Eric Gottschalk, MMC's chief executive officer, said in a statement that United City will be keeping the core of Ceres Negros lineup for this season.
"We are proud to announce that we have received the commitment from 16 of the original 21 registered Ceres Negros players (not including James Younghusband who has retired recently from football) to play for the new club," Gottschalk said.
He added that Risto Vidakovic stays as head coach and Ace Bright retains his spot as general manager.
Gottschalk did not disclose the name of the players staying, although he added that they will be revealed soon.
"The aim is to keep the team and staff together as much as possible, and allow them the well-deserved chance to continue to play football amid all the challenges that everyone has been facing," Gottschalk said.
“We will now immediately apply for permission with the PFF (Philippine Football Federation) to rename the club to 'United City Football Club'," he added.
Despite the name change, Gottschalk said the management group still intends to have United City playing in the AFC Cup.
United City, still listed as Ceres Negros, is unbeaten in Group G after the first round of the group stages with seven points on two wins and a draw.
The club will once again meet Bali United, Svay Rieng, and Than Quang Ninh in the second round from Sept. 23-29 in a bubble similar to the one being used by the National Basketball Association in its season restart.
The ownership transfer was done due to the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 in the businesses of former owner Leo Rey Yanson as well as the ongoing row within his family.
“We would like to thank Mr. Yanson and his team for agreeing to the transfer of the club into our name as this allows the players to continue participating in the Philippines Football League and hopefully also in the AFC Cup for the 2020 season,” Gottschalk said.*PNA

PFL braces for return


The Philippine Football League (PFL) is looking to iron out the kinks before unwrapping its fourth season.
PFL commissioner Coco Torre said they want to stabilize two of their members — United City FC and Global FC — before formally restarting the season that was heavily delayed by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Despite drawing a lot of accolades, the team owner of Ceres Negros FC stepped down, paving the way for international sports marketing firm, MMC Sportz Asia, to take over and rename it United City Football Club.
Although the management vowed to retain Serbian mentor Risto Vidakovic as head coach as well as 16 players of the squad, Torre still wants it to show some semblance of stability before going full blast with their training and conditioning sessions in accordance to health and safety protocols of the government.
“The new management has very big shoes to fill. I wish that they can deliver the same quality that Ceres has showcased throughout the years,” said Torre, adding that Ceres FC used to have an elite status being the top football club in Southeast Asia.
“I’m happy to know that someone already took over with the legacy of the former owner of the team.”
On the same note, Torre is hoping that Global FC will honor its commitment after agreeing to fix its contracts and obligations to its players within 10 days.

23 July 2020

Ceres Negros to become “United City Football Club”

For immediate release 23 July 2020
Ceres Negros to become “United City Football Club”
MMC Sportz Asia to lead a group of private investors to manage the Club through the 2020 Philippines Football League & AFC Cup competitions
Manila, Philippines – Today’s signing of the agreement cemented the transfer of ownership of the Ceres Negros Football Company, currently the #1 ranked team in ASEA and 3x defending champion in the PFL, to a group of private investors which is managed by MMC Sportz Asia.
“We would like to thank Mr. Yanson and his team for agreeing to the transfer of the Club into our name as this allows the players to continue participating in the Philippines Football League and hopefully also in the AFC Cup for the 2020 season”, stated Eric Gottschalk, CEO of MMC Sportz Asia, who will be the point of contact.
“We will now immediately apply for the permission with the PFF to re-name the Club to “United City Football Club” and request the PFF to support our statement of intent to continue participating in the AFC Cup”, states Gottschalk.
“We would like to honor the legacy which Mr. Yanson created when he founded the Ceres Negros Club and we will try to continue the development of Philippines football, especially the professional league and the National Team.”
We will make additional announcements regarding the players and staff that have already committed to join the new team and give a clear insight into the new ownership structure in the coming days. We believe transparency on all levels is key to the success of the new team and will unveil the names in due course.
“Our marketing activities are well under way, with the Fans at the heart of everything we do starting with a LOGO COMPETITION, with the final decision to come from the players and the Fans.”
We are proud to also announce that we have received the commitment 16 of the original 21 registered Ceres Negros players (not including James Younghusband who has retired recently from football), to play for the new Club with more details to be shared in the coming days”.
“We are also retaining almost the entire staff around General Manager Ace Bright, and it is our intent to have Coach Risto return as the Head Coach. The aim is to keep the team and staff together as much as possible, and allow them the well-deserved chance to continue to play football amid all the challenges that everyone has been facing”
Please follow us:
Facebook: @unitedcityfootballclub
Media Contact: English: info@mmc-sportz.com

19 July 2020

New group of owners to keep popular Ceres core for PFL, AFC


The new management and ownership group that will take over the operations of powerhouse Filipino football club Ceres-Negros FC is making progress in its bid to keep the core of the squad for the Philippines Football League (PFL).
A source privy to the negotiations said the new investors are close to finalizing the memorandum of understanding with Ceres-Negros owner Leo Rey Yanson for the transfer of ownership and management of the multititled club from Bacolod.

Obviously, as soon as the agreement is signed, the new owners of the team will have to change the name of the club.
Yanson let go of the club last month, citing personal reasons primarily due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pande­mic on the Yanson Group of Bus Companies, which he heads.

“The parties involved are making a lot of progress,” said the source, who declined to divulge the identity of the new owners as negotiations are still ongoing. “The assurance is that the new investors will definitely field the club in the PFL and the AFC Cup should these tournaments push through.”
Ceres general manager Ace Bright, who is handling the transition from the previous management to the new owners, hinted at exciting times ahead.
“We will be announcing something exciting very soon and I’m sure the fans will love it,” Bright said in a statement. “Some things may change, but people are also going to fall in love with the club as much as they did with Ceres FC.”
Negotiations with players who were part of the Ceres squad are also gaining ground.
Since Ceres terminated contracts of its players and staff last month, the new ownership group has the tough task of keeping the squad intact for the PFL and the AFC Cup.
“So far, the discussions with the players have been very positive,” the source said.
The PFL is preparing the PFF National Training Center as the venue for training and actual matches. INQ


18 July 2020

Kaya-Iloilo players test negative for COVID-19

 Adrian Stewart Co

MANILA – Players of Kaya Futbol Club-Iloilo have tested negative for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ahead of the Philippines Football League (PFL) return to training sessions.
Kaya-Iloilo said that all their players who underwent COVID-19 testing last week yielded negative results as they gear up for practice resumption at PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.
“Test results are in… ALL NEGATIVE!! Our path back to the pitch is all clear!” Kaya Iloilo announced on its Facebook account.
Stallion-Laguna FC and Mendiola 1991 FC had earlier announced that their players were also tested negative from the deadly virus.
PFL commissioner Coco Torre, meanwhile, said that all those who underwent COVID-19 testing last week were negative from the virus. Some teams, however, were incomplete.
Magkakaroon tayo ng second batch ng COVID-19 testing dahil may mga players na hindi nakapagpa-COVID-19 test,” Torre told Panay News. “So far dun sa mga na-test namin ay negative naman,” he added./PN

15 July 2020

PFF prepares training center for PFL clubs

As negotiations for the new owner of Ceres-Negros FC continue, clubs playing for this year’s season of the Philippines Football League are gearing to return to their training sessions.
In support to the league, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has prepared the PFF National Training Center which will be the primary training venue of PFL clubs.
The PFF National Training Center is a 2-hectare facility inside the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park in Carmona, Cavite. The lot was leased to PFF by the Manila Jockey Club Inc. (MJCI), the PFF announced on its website yesterday.
The National Training Center consists of one FIFA-funded 105mx68m artificial turf and two 20mx40m mini artificial pitches funded by the AFC.
Aside from the PFL matches, the National Training Center also hosted games of PFF Women’s League and PFF U15 Boys National Championship, coaching and refereeing courses, and national teams’ training sessions.
Last year, the center also hosted the International Women’s Friendly Match between the Philippines and Macau.
“We thank FIFA and AFC for providing PFF the facilities needed to improve the PFF National Training Center,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta, Jr. “These developments in the facility are a great help to clubs and our own national teams in their training sessions”.
PFF undertakes to ensure that the training center complies with the infrastructure protocols set in the “PFF Operations Protocol on PFL”, such as mandatory temperature checks and health declaration prior to entry, sanitizing mats in the entry and exit areas, regular surface and equipment disinfection before and after each training session, availability of hand sanitizers at key areas, mandatory wearing of face masks when not training in the pitch, and physical distancing.
PFF is set to make the training center a “bubble” to prevent or minimize COVID-19 virus transmission, not only during club training but during actual league matches once approval is granted.*

14 July 2020

PFF hopes to resume amateur training, competitions soon

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is pinning their hopes that the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) may, in due course, allow training and eventual playing of amateur level football competitions.
Team sports and contact sports are still not allowed in the high-risk and medium risk areas in the country. However, the IATF recently approved the resumption of training for professional football clubs.
PFF initially announced that the local PFF Competitions scheduled for the year have been deferred until further notice owing to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the competitions that have been deferred are the PFF Women’s League, Regional Festival of Football, PFF U15 and U17 Boys Championship, and the PFF U16 and U18 Girls Championship.
“It really depends on the IATF, and at the moment, amateur team sports, much more contact sports are not allowed,” added PFF president Mariano Araneta, Jr.
“We already had plans to start the U15 and U17 competitions this year. If we cannot start this year, we will host the competitions next year.”
“The PFF youth tournaments are deferred in the meantime,” added PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes. “If the students are not allowed attend face-to-face classes, we should expect that they may not also be allowed to participate in contact team sports activities whether in training or competition.”
Despite the current restriction on age-group competitions, PFF hopes that senior women’s football may get the green light from IATF. FIFA announced that the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand in 2023. The Philippine Women’s National Team look to qualify in this tournament.
“We are hoping for the return of Women’s football,” added Gastanes. “The next FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will feature 36 teams instead of 24 teams and this will serve as inspiration for the Philippine Women’s National Team which almost made it to the last Women’s World Cup held in France in 2019.”*pff.org

09 July 2020

Ceres-Negros FC in talks for new owner

 Adrian Stewart Co

MANILA – Ceres-Negros FC is currently in talks with some investors who will take over the team ahead of their title defense in the Philippines Football League and the resumption of their 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup campaign.
In a statement released yesterday, the Busmen said that once the change of ownership is completed, it will be rebranding the squad as Busmen chairman Leo Rey Yanson will not be involved in any capacity.
“This is one of the toughest decisions made by Mr. Yanson, whose passion for football was reflected at the way he poured his personal resources and steered the club to unprecedented heights since it was formed eight years ago,” the statement read.
“Through Ceres-Negros FC, Mr. Yanson was able to share his love for the game to his countrymen. While the pandemic has struck hard on businesses all over the world, Ceres has made its best efforts to compensate its players and staff,” it added.
Meanwhile, Ceres-Negros star Bienvenido Marañon, during the CPT Crossover podcast of Bacolodnon sportswriter Cedelf Tupas on Tuesday night, said the squad is looking forward to the resumption of practices.
“We are waiting for the schedule of the games, the schedule of AFC and we are just excited to train,” Marañon said. “In the future something good is coming. We will soon start like its normal. We really have a good team and good management.”
Jose Elmer Porteria, who was also present during the podcast, seconded the AFC Cup all-time leading scorer as he sees a bright future ahead for the club.
“We already moved past the hard part and we are looking forward to playing again,” Porteria said. “Despite all the struggles the past few months, the team still stuck it together. And we also have a good owner in LRY (Leo Rey Yanson) who helped us until he could.”/PN

Yanson gives up Ceres-Negros ownership


What was known in the football community as Ceres-Negros FC will be no more as the club announced yesterday that a new management and owner will soon take over.
In a statement posted on its social media account, Ceres-Negros Football Club said it is “currently in talks with investors who will be taking over the management and ownership of the club in preparation of the fourth season of the Philippines Football League and the resumption of the campaign in the AFC Cup.”
“As soon as the takeover is completed, the club will no longer be known as Ceres-Negros since our current chairman Leo Rey Yanson will not be involved in any way in the affairs of the club,” the official statement from the club said.
“This is one of the toughest decisions made by Mr. Yanson, whose passion for football was reflected at the way he poured his personal resources and steered the club to unprecedented heights,” the club added.
The announcement deeply saddened the loyal Ceres-Negros fans, who followed the team’s historic journey in Philippine football almost eight years ago.
“I was a bit shocked when I saw the announcement but I truly understand the situation why LRY had to do it,” Jan Gozon, leader of the Ultras Ceres said.
While his loyalty remains with Ceres-Negros FC and LRY, Gozon considers it “a good thing that a new investor will save the club although under a new name”.
As one of those who cheered the loudest for their beloved Ceres-Negros FC game after game, be it at the home pitch in Panaad Stadium or in an away match anywhere in the country, Gozon said he considers every match as a “best moment”
“Win or lose I always cherish it and I will carry it with me ‘till the end,” Gozon said.
He expressed his hopes that the new owner “will have the same heart, vision and passion as LRY and will continue the club’s glory”.
For a football fanatic who sums up Ceres-Negros as “The Pride of Negros”, he feels disheartened with the major changes in the club which he said “will affect the name and branded colors.”
However, he assured that “whoever the new owner will be, as long as its pro-Negros as it was with Ceres, we fans will continue to support”.
And there are those who link the conflict among the Yanson siblings to the decision of LRY to give up the ownership of the football club.
Ems Gelogo of Hinigaran said, “I definitely see a change of ownership of Ceres-Negros FC because of the family squabble. I am deeply saddened by this but it is what it is.”
Among those who chronicled the club’s meteoric rise in Philippine football is Bacolod-based sports photographer Stephen Tan.
“Every game was like history in motion. I am honored to be part of it and I thank LRY and club administrator Daniel Nicholas Golez for tapping me as one of the official photographers of Ceres-Negros,” Tan said.*