27 June 2021

United City’s Withe left disappointed after youthful Beijing FC snatch AFC Champions League draw

 Tashkent: United City FC coach Jason Withe was left to lament an opportunity gone begging after his side’s AFC Champions League debut ended in a 1-1 draw against a severely depleted Beijing FC outfit at Bunyodkor Stadium on Friday.

Ahead thanks to a sublime Stephan Shröck strike, and dominant in nearly every statisctical indicator, the Filipino outfit looked to be sailing to a historic victory with 20 minutes remaining, but Beijing’s 19-year-old skipper Liang Shaowen produced a strike every bit as good as Schröck’s to earn a share of the spoils.

Liang’s goal was Beijing’s only shot on the target for the 90 minutes, and while Withe’s side succeeded in becoming the first from the Philippines to secure an AFC Champions League point, it was the two they left behind that were the focus of the coach’s attention.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Withe. “I think we dominated for large periods of the game. You look at possession, it’s probably 70 per cent possession for us, one shot on goal (for Beijing), which was obviously a great freekick.

“To go 90 minutes without conceding a shot, we should be pleased with that. We saw that Beijing FC were happy with the draw and celebrating at the final whistle, so I think we represented the club well.

“It’s all about testing yourselves against the best teams. I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen today. We have created chances. The fine difference in football is scoring and not scoring. If you don’t put the ball in the back of the net, you don’t win. We created chances but didn’t take them. We learn from it and move on.”

United City have approximately 72 hours to soak up the lessons of their opening AFC Champions League experience, with the games coming thick and fast over the next two weeks in the tournament’s Tashkent bubble.

Saturday’s clash was the club’s first competitive hit out in 2021, but the debutants ran the game out well, pushing for the winner until the final whistle, and very nearly finding it when substitute Mark Hartmann rattled the crossbar from distance late on.

“Our preparation in Dubai has been about building up to these 90 minutes,” explained Withe.

“We played three friendlies, but it was all geared towards peaking on time for competitive matches. From here it’s about building competitive match fitness. It is all about recovery as we have the games coming in in a short span of time.

“Tonight, we finished the game very strong, unlike our opposition.”

While the points were shared at Bunyodkor Stadium, there was little doubt about which coach left the happier, with Beijing’s Zoran Jankovic delighted to have claimed a point despite fielding a side with almost no previous experience at the continental level.

Jankovic is filling in for regular Beijing boss Slaven Bilic, who remains in China alongside the vast majority of the club’s first team squad, but Liang’s superb strike ensured that the group’s youngest squad lived up to their coach’s pre-tournament pledge.

“We said in the pre-match press conference that our objective was to collect some points, and we already collected points with a surprise performance from our players.” said Jankovic.

“For me the problem at half time was that I needed to change two players and change the formation. There was a lot of mistakes, but I changed the formation, and it was a good decision from us and the staff to do that. We played well and even had a chance to score a second goal towards the end, so it was a big surprise."

"This tournament is very difficult for our players who are very young. Almost all of whom were born between 2000 and 2003. It was not nice when I saw two or three players laying down with cramps in their legs. I don’t like to see that, but we must know that these kids are very young, and they have not played this type of game.

“For them it is more difficult to play at this level, but it was a perfect game for us.”

Beijing’s next test is expected to be even more challenging, with a date with reigning Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale locked in for Tuesday, while United City will face Korea Republic’s Daegu FC.


26 June 2021

AFC Champions League United City Fc vs Beijing Fc


AFC Champions League - BG Pathum United 4-1 Kaya Fc


Azkals coach expects 'strongest squad' to be together by September

 By CJ Marquez, CNN Philippines

(CNN Philippines, June 25) — Philippine Azkals head coach Scott Cooper is expecting to gather a formidable squad in the coming months.

Cooper is hoping to have a healthier team when they return to the pitch in September. The national team has been plagued with injuries, including star goalie Neil Etheridge and Filipino-German midfielder John-Patrick Strauss.

"We'll play in some international games in September. We should have the strongest squad together by then. Azkals fans can look forward to a very promising next couple of years with a vastly improved squad," the English coach told CNN Philippines' Sports Desk on Friday.

The Azkals are coming off a historic stint in the joint qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup where they tallied the most points by any Philippine men's national football team. The Philippines finished with 11 points in Group A behind Syria's 21 points and China's 19 points.

For Cooper, the achievement can be celebrated but he is still aiming to bring the Philippines to the major tournaments.

"The points tallied that we got from the group is the most achieved by any Azkals team. The team made history in terms of points gained total. We can be satisfied with that achievement but for me it's about going to the big stage and we have to stop settling for mediocrity," he said.


“A dream come true” – United City, Kaya FC-Iloilo set for historic Philippines AFC Champions League double act

 Tashkent: Football in the Philippines will mark a day like no other on Saturday, when the nation’s top teams take their first steps in the continent’s greatest club competition; the AFC Champions League.

On opposite sides of the continent, not one, but two clubs from the Philippines Football League will play their first ever AFC Champions League matches on Saturday, with United City facing off with Beijing FC in Tashkent, while Kaya FC-Iloilo will meet BG Pathum United more than 4,000 kilometres away in Thailand.

While the Philippines national team made history of its own by reaching the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, these are uncharted waters in club football.

Never before has even one Filipino club reached the group stage – and not since Pasay City’s 1995 participation in the former Asian Club Championship have any appeared at the equivalent level - but as can often be the case at this time of the year in the archipelago, when it rains, it pours.

It is progress that has been a long time coming, particularly for United City, who just seven years ago were playing the AFC President’s Cup, the now-defunct third-tier Asian club competition featuring teams from emerging nations.

Since then, the club formerly known as Ceres-Negros have not only established themselves in the AFC Cup, but taken some memorable scalps in the AFC Champions League preliminary rounds, with their ticket to the group stage finally stamped as a result of this season’s expanded competition format.

That means the club eliminated by Turkmenistan’s HTTU Ashgabat back in the 2014 President’s Cup will now cross paths with the likes of star-studded Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale, among others.

United City captain Stephan Schrock has been there for much of the ride.

Born and raised in Germany by a Filipino mother, Schrock made his debut for the Philippines national team in 2011, and swapped Europe for Southeast Asia to join United City in 2016, going on to star for the club in milestone victories over Australia’s Brisbane Roar and Port FC of Thailand.

Serving in a player-coach role in Tashkent, 34-year-old Schrock says reaching the ultimate stage in Asian club football is the culmination of a dream.

“We’re coming from a league with six teams. To have two teams participating in the Champions League – especially for Kaya – means we’re doing quite good work in the Philippines,” said the 47-cap international.

“For us as a nation, becoming a football nation and changing the culture and sports mentality there, it’s a big boost for everyone, and also to understand the AFC Champions League is the very, very top. Having two teams participating will hopefully change the culture, the way we will play and the way we will fight.

“If you grow up in Europe, playing the Champions League is every boy’s dream, and to make this come true tomorrow, it’s just amazing.”

With four successive league titles to their name on the domestic front, United City have long been the Philippines’ AFC Champions League-team-in-waiting, but Kaya-Iloilo’s rise has come out of the blue.

The club finished second in a severely shortened 2020 league season, earning a place in the AFC Champions League Preliminary rounds, where they were considered outsiders to beat Brisbane, with the winners of that match to advance to a playoff clash against Chinese powerhouse Shanghai Port.

Brisbane’s withdrawal from the competition meant the two-game qualification path became a 90-minute shootout, with Audie Menzi’s goal securing a famous win against a depleted Shanghai outfit, and sending Kaya to the group stage.

“It’s a dream to be honest,” said Kaya midfielder Marwin Angeles, who is now in his 11th year of domestic football in the Philippines.

“It’s something that every player would love - to play at this stage. It’s not just personal, but everybody. As you can see after the last game, you can feel the happiness from each player.

“We’re not playing for ourselves but for our families, club, country and for the people who have worked hard for us to be here. What we achieved is something we will treasure for the rest of our lives. It’s a huge honour to be here, and we will do our best tomorrow.”

United City have also been inspired by Kaya’s heroics.

They’ll face a Beijing FC side hampered by similar personnel issues to the ones faced by Shanghai Port, and Schrock admits his side have been boosted by the realisation that Saturday’s match looms as one they can win.

“It gives us hope,” he said. “Kaya beat Shanghai, but it was also a very tight and hard-fought game. For us, we’re just looking to do well, In general, as a unit, as a team and as a club. Obviously, you play football to win games and that’s the main goal in every competition.

“But I’m not really focusing on this game or that game. As a club, as a team, we want to improve game by game and do well as a unit.”

While there is justifiable optimism around both clubs, there are other factors which should act to temper expectations for the AFC Champions League’s Filipino pioneers.

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, last year’s drastically shortened domestic season has been followed by a 2021 campaign which has yet to begin, but despite the obvious challenges, Schrock can at least promise that his side won’t let this opportunity come and go without a mighty effort.

“For us it's quite difficult to prepare for such a big event, but we are very excited and very proud and honoured to be part of the Champions League, especially coming from a country that has never participated in this event," he said.

“We will give it a good fight. Some of the boys haven’t had a proper competition since October last year so it will be quite a challenge for us, but we are here to make the best of it.”


24 June 2021

Philippines To Face Hong Kong And Nepal In AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers

 The Philippine Women’s National Team were drawn to Group F in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 Qualifiers draw ceremony held last Thursday, 24 June 2021 at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Philippines, which were seeded in Pot 1 by virtue of their sixth placed finish in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Jordan 2018, are grouped with Hong Kong and Nepal. The qualifiers will be held from 13-25 September 2021 in Nepal.

PFF officials expressed optimism on the result of the draw. The top team at the end of the group stage will advance to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 final round to be held in India in January 2022, which is also the qualifiers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

“We wish the Philippine Women’s National Team all the best as they face Hong Kong and Nepal in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India Qualifiers 2022,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta, Jr. “This is the team’s return to competition and we hope they can make their return to the Women’s Asian Cup as they embark on the path to World Cup qualification.”

“We are hopeful of the Women’s National Team’s chances in the upcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup India Qualifiers 2022,” added PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes. “The road to the FIFA Women’s World Cup formally begins with the Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers.”

Philippine Women’s National Team goalkeeper and captain Inna Palacios hopes for a good run in the qualifiers after its good run in 2019 that culminated in fourth place finishes in the AFF Women’s Championship and the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

“We’ve been waiting to play. The draw went well and I believe that the team has a good chance of topping the group stage,” said Palacios. “We already faced Hong Kong in a friendly in 2019 and we are also excited to play Nepal in the qualifiers.”


Kaya FC-Iloilo Qualifies To The AFC Champions League Group Stage

 Philippines Football League side Kaya FC-Iloilo secured a memorable 1-0 win over Shanghai Port FC last night 23 June 2021 at the Pathum Thani Stadium, to book their place to the AFC Champions League group stages.

Audie Menzie’s 16th minute header lifted Kaya to Group F of the competition where they will meet defending AFC Champions League winners Ulsan Hyundai, Thai League 1 champions BG Pathum United, and V.League 1 champions Viettel FC.

“To be able to last 90 minutes, everybody worked hard for their effort,” said Kaya head coach Graham Harvey. “It was an amazing achievement for everyone in the club.”

Kaya started the match on the front foot. New signing Ryo Fujii made his presence felt in the seventh minute, but could only steer his shot off target. Captain Jovin Bedic also came close six minutes later, but was denied by the post.

Their efforts paid off when Menzi jumped highest to head in Daizo Horikoshi’s corner to put Kaya ahead inside the first 16 minutes of the match.

A goal ahead, Kaya looked to add a second goal in the opening minutes of the second half but Bedic’s effort sailed over the post.

Shanghai Port almost forced a deadlock in the latter stages of the match, but the Kaya defense, led by goalkeeper Louie Casas held firm to preserve the victory and with it a spot to the group stages.

With a group stage slot secured, Harvey looks forward to battling the best teams in the continent.

“We are now on the biggest stage in Asia, when we play some of the biggest clubs,” added Harvey. “The boys have already begun to focus on the next six games. We will celebrate and enjoy this win but we’ll make sure to be focused for the next matches.”

Kaya will face BG Pathum United on Saturday, 26 June 2021 to begin their group stage campaign.


21 June 2021

Jarvey Gayoso joins Kaya-Iloilo training in Bangkok

 by Jonas Terrado

Jarvey Gayoso has finally joined his new club Kaya-Iloilo ahead of their AFC Champions League playoff match against Chinese Super League side Shanghai Port on Wednesday, June 23 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Gayoso took part in Kaya’s first training session in Bangkok after flying in from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates where he played in all three matches of the Philippine Azkals in the World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifiers.

“Understandably, Kaya plays a different formation and a different style of play, it’s all about adjusting as fast as possible because the competition’s coming up soon,” said Gayoso in an interview provided by the club’s media relations.

“But it’s nice to play with these guys because a lot of them I’ve met and I’ve played with also so it’s nice to play with a lot of them. So, I’m excited for the qualifiers and I’m ready, we’re ready,” added the former Ateneo star whose signing was announced last June 13.

He and Kaya are aiming to pull off an upset win over Shanghai and become the second Filipino club to play in the group stage of the Champions League.

United City gained a direct berth to the ACL by virtue of winning last season’s Philippines Football League.


11 June 2021

Philippines 3-0 Guam


Azkals demolish Guam, 3-0



The Philippine Azkals finally got back in the winning column after thumping Guam, 3-0, in the group stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualifiers in Sharjah Stadium, United Arab Emirates.

After an early goal from Angel Guirado in the first half, the Filipinos boosted their second half performance as an own goal from Guam’s Marcus Lopez and a late direct free kick from Mark Hartmann sealed the victory for the national squad.

Bagging its third victory in the prestigious tourney, the squad has now solidified its third place position in the Group A with 10 points and improved its chances to advance in the next round of Asian Cup qualifiers.

The Nationals are set to finish their group stage campaign when they face Maldives on 15 June.


Philippines 3-0 Guam


10 June 2021

11. June - Philippines vs Guam , Livestream


Guam FA livestream :


Live also on OneSports TV and Facebook


Match start 10 PM PHT

Azkals youngblood out to show more



Philippine Azkals youngster Jefferson Tabinas is eyeing to unleash more of his skills as the national squad continues its hunt for Asian Cup qualification in the FIFA World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifiers in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Deemed as the most impressive player on Azkals’ return to international action against China last Tuesday, the 22-year old center back is raring to go all out with only two games left for the team in the prestigious qualifiers.

“Always. I hope that I can play better,” Tabinas said after their 0-2 performance against China.

“We had a lot of accidents, but everyone played good and I’m proud of them.”

Playing for Mito HollyHock in the J2 League, the Shinjuku-born talent was one of the nine new faces called up for national duty, alongside fellow Azkals youngsters Jarvey Gayoso, Mark Winhoffer, Mar Diano and Michael Kempter.

And despite his newcomer status, the Filipino-Japanese booter quickly earned praises from head coach Scott Cooper after showing a defensive masterclass that prevented China from making clear chances inside the box.

“I think we can take pride in that, Jeff Tabinas made a very good Azkals debut,” Cooper said.

In fact, Tabinas himself said that he was never intimidated in facing a stronger opposition led by Chinese star We Lei of Espanyol and naturalized forward Elkeson of Guangzhou Evergrande.

“I don’t know if it’s okay to say this but it was easy for me because I had in my mind a more special striker but there was nothing like that.”

“It was easy for me to play with them.”

But regardless of his impressive showing, the young defender is not letting his guard down as the Nationals still have an ax to grind when they face Guam on 11 June and the Maldives on 15 June.

“I think [of] this as the lowest, so that I can play more. When I have more matches then I can play better than today.,” Tabinas added.

“I can focus on the game and have a lot of communication with my teammates. That’s my style so I have to keep it always.”


08 June 2021

China PR 2-0 Philippines

 The Philippine Men’s National Team yielded to China PR, 0-2, in the resumption of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 / AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualifiers last night at Sharjah Stadium.

Two second half goals from China PR denied the Philippines a strong start in the centralized competition here in the United Arab Emirates. The Azkals remain in third place with seven points in Group A, while China PR go up 13 points.

Five players made their international debut for the Philippines in goalkeeper Bernd Schipmann, defenders Michael Kempter and Jefferson Tabinas, and midfielders Oliver Bias and Mark Winhoffer.

The Philippines were organized and disciplined during the first half, despite picking up injuries to Kempter and Kenshiro Daniels. Mark Hartmann had the chance to take the lead in the 21st minute, but was cleared off the line.

China PR eventually took the lead from the spot in the 56th minute. Wu Lei converted from the penalty spot after a foul by Schipmann.

The hosts added a second nine minutes later from Wu Xinghan to complete the result.

The Philippines look to rebound as they face Guam and Maldives on Friday 11 June 2021 and Tuesday 15 June 2021


Azkals starting XI


07 June 2021

Cooper: Azkals moving in right direction

 Azkals coach Scott Cooper admits calling up players for national team selection for the resumption of the qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup proved tougher than usual with injuries, COVID-19 restrictions and personal issues hounding standouts who figured prominently for the squad in the past.

Cooper has called up several new players including Michael Kempter, Jeff Tabinas, Oliver Bias, Mar Diano, Mark Winhoffer, Matthew Baldisimo, Bernd Schipmann and Quincy Kammeraad. Kenshiro Daniels was also recalled after a long absence from the Azkals.

Cooper explained that he had reached out to several players like Kevin Ingreso, Javier Patiño, Patrick Deyto, Michael Falkesgaard and Daisuke Sato before releasing the pool for the three remaining matches here.

Ingreso had begged off to focus on his new club, while Patiño said he is retiring from international football. Sato, Deyto and Falkesgaard couldn’t join the squad due to family reasons.

Still, the Azkals had a formidable pool to choose from with Neil Etheridge and Patrick Strauss also making themselves available. However, Etheridge informed Cooper in late May that he needed to undergo surgery, while Strauss sustained an injury on the final day of the Bundesliga 2 season, ruling him out of the qualifiers.

Iain Ramsay also skipped the matches due to travel restrictions in Australia.

Lloyd Fagerlie, 19, joined camp in Doha, but couldn’t get his passport in time for the qualifiers. More players are in the pipeline to strengthen the squad in the next window including Gerrit Holtmann, Jesper Nyholm and Raphael Obermair.

Bienvenido Marañon is also expected to link up with the team as soon as he is naturalization is completed together with Jesse Curran, who is still working on documentary requirements.
Carlie de Murga and Manny Ott have rejoined the squad for the competition after it was moved to the UAE from China.

The Azkals are currently in third spot in the group with seven points, behind Syria and China.

Cooper’s squad face the Chinese on Monday at Sharjah Stadium here. The Azkals tangle with Guam on July 11 and Maldives four days later.

As it stands, the team is on track of surpassing the previous qualifying tally of 10 points from the last cycle.

Cooper believes the challenges in squad selection could also be a blessing in disguise as it fits the long term plans of the team.

“The future looks excellent with new additions, existing players and some younger players coming into the squad that are also eligible for Olympics and SEA Games too ensuring the long term future is also considered,” said Cooper.

“The planning of all aspects of Azkals short, medium and long term have been considered. The fact that the team is in position for its best ever group tally in the World Cup ever despite several player unavailability bodes well for the future.”


Azkals live on Onesports


Let's show our support for the Philippine Azkals 🇵🇭 as they face China PR 🇨🇳 in the joint Qatar 2022 World Cup and China 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers! ⚽

Catch the game LIVE tomorrow at 1 AM on One Sports+ and the LIVESTREAM on One Sports+ Facebook page! Available on Cignal TV CH 261 HD and 91 SD, also available for FREE on Cignal Play.

Azkals squad for FIFA World Cup Qualifiers


06 June 2021

Kaya in playoff stage of AFC Champions League

 MANILA (6 June 2021) – Kaya FC-Iloilo from the Philippines will play in the Playoff Stage of the 2021 AFC Champions League against China PR’s Shanghai Port FC for a place in Group F this year.

Initially, Kaya were supposed to take on Australia’s Brisbane Roar in the Preliminary Stage of the tournament later this month.

But following the withdrawal of Brisbane Roar and two other Australian clubs – Sydney FC and Melbourne City FC – the AFC COVID-19 Sub-Committee for AFC Champions League and AFC Cup 2021 (East) have decided the final line-up of clubs for the AFC Champions League 2021 Group and Playoff Stages. 

The Playoff Stage match between Daegu FC and Chiangrai FC with the 2020 Thai FA Cup winners replacing Sydney FC in Group H and Daegu FC receiving a direct entry into Group I.

Meanwhile, the Playoff Stage match between Melbourne City FC and Cerezo Osaka has also been cancelled, with the Japanese side receiving a direct bye into Group J, alongside China PR’s Guangzhou FC, Kitchee SC from Hong Kong and Thailand’s Port FC.

The AFC Champions League Groups F, G and J will take place in Bangkok and Buriram in Thailand from 22 June to 11 July 2021, while Groups H and I will be staged in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 25 June to 11 July 2021.



Azkals resume WCQ bid against China

 SHARJAH, UAE – Notwithstanding the challenges in competing amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden change in venue and schedules, the Philippines looks to deliver a strong performance as the Azkals resume their campaign in the joint qualifying tournament for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup here.

The Azkals face China at 9 p.m. on Monday (Tuesday, 1 a.m. in Manila) in their first match since a 0-1 defeat to Syria in November 2019.

Sitting in third spot in the group with seven points, the Azkals have an outside chance to reach the third round of the WCQ and an outright Asian Cup spot, although a place in the next round of Asian Cup qualifying is a more realistic and doable task.

The team has added veterans Carlie De Murga and Manny Ott to the current lineup with the defender joining the squad in training last Saturday. Due to limited flights from Kuala Lumpur, Ott will be arriving Monday to link up with the team that has newcomers in Jeff Tabinas, Bernd Schipmann, Michael Kempter, Oliver Bias, Oliver Bias, Matthew Baldissimo and Mark Winhoffer.

Captain Stephan Schrock and Patrick Reichelt have taken on the leadership role with a relatively younger squad for the competiton.

“Right now the team is upbeat, we’re very motivated,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami. “We’re aiming for nine points here. Of course, there have been some major health concerns that we have raised to AFC and Fifa but we’re trying to cope with it and trying to focus on the game on Monday. We’re quite optimistic and the players are motivated to perform.”

The Azkals earlier noted the change in the sequence of matches as Guam was supposed to be their first opponents at the resumption of the centralized competition only for the AFC to switch it to China. Palami also raised concerns over the supposed bubble here in Sharjah, which was only put in place a day after the Azkals arrived.

The matches were supposed to be played in Suzhou, China, but due to challenges encountered by teams entering the country, the AFC moved the tournament to the UAE. The Philippine Football Federation had to cancel the chartered flight from Doha to Shangai at the last minute.

“Certainly in the past 10-11 years, this has been one of the most difficult (competition) that we had understandably because of the COVID protocols,” said Palami. “These are just challenges that we need to overcome so we can focus on the game.”

Despite the challenges faced by the Azkals, Palami sees no reason they can’t play their hearts out here.

“They’ll be fighting really hard and make sure the country is represented very well,” he said. “It is what it is and we have to push through no matter what.”


03 June 2021

UCFC unwraps Dubai camp




United City FC (UCFC) formally kicked off its training camp in Dubai in preparation for the AFC Champions League in Uzbekistan.

UCFC co-owner Eric Gottschalk said the squad had already opened its 17-day training camp, looking to improve its chemistry before seeing action in the prestigious club tourney set from 25 June to 11 July.

The 22-man squad arrived in Dubai last Monday and immediately regrouped to improve their skills following a very long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The team is already together and needs to jell a little bit. They are now getting ready and used to regular team practices,” Gottschalk said.

“They’ve been training for the last two days. It’s obviously a big development for us.”

The four-time Philippine Football League champion is bunched in Group I with Japan League titlist Kawasaki Frontale, Chinese Super League powerhouse Beijing Guoan FC, and the winner of the playoff match between Daegu FC of Korea and Chiangrai United of Thailand.

With a tough stint ahead of them, Gottschalk said that the club is scheduled to play a friendly match against a UAE Division 2 club starting 8 June, followed by two or more games against other Dubai-based teams.

“We are going to play two or three friendly games against a local second-division team on 8 June. Then, we will also line up two more games for the team,” Gottschalk said.

Led by all-time top scorer Bienvenido Marañon, UCFC will be bannering its newest signings, including foreign reinforcements like American defender Johnny Campbell and Korean booter Da-Hwon Jung, as well as former Nottingham FC graduate Kieran Hayes.

Meanwhile, skipper Stephan Schrock, Mark Hartmann, Mike Ott and Justin Baasare expected to join as soon as they wrap up their national team duties in the FIFA World Cup and AFC Cup Qualifiers in Sharjah this month.


01 June 2021

Letter from AFC about match schedule


Philippine Azkals to head to UAE for AFC, FIFA joint qualifiers

 The Philippine Azkals is now headed to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates after the middle eastern country replaced China as host of the joint Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

The Asian Football Confederation on Tuesday announced that the remaining seven games of Group A, which includes Syria, China, Maldives, Guam, and the Philippines, will be staged at the Sharjah Stadium under a "centralized" setup.

"These are indeed unprecedented times for everyone, and, on behalf of the AFC, I would like to thank the UAE FA for agreeing to host the Group A matches of the Asian Qualifiers," said AFC General Secretary Dato' Windsor John.

"The UAE FA's commitment to host the matches within such a short lead time is testament to their spirit of understanding and organizational excellence, and we are confident that they will provide the best possible environment for our teams and players."

Currently, the Azkals are still in a training camp in Doha, Qatar as part of their buildup for their matches against Maldives, China, and Guam, which the Filipinos were supposed to take on this Thursday.