Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cebu club joins UFL

This is the longer version of the report that will come out on Sun.Star Cebu on Sept. 16.

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.

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. However, 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 and Cebu’s entry is expected to boost the ratings.

“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 Musni, Ricky Dakay, Glenn Quisido and Dr. Stanley Villacin last week, was instrumental in convincing the officers to join the UFL.

During that meeting, Araneta told CAFC that the UFL would support their plan of putting up a Visayas League, which was the club’s initial plan, but also presented them an alternative, and that is to join the UFL.

Araneta also said the TV ratings of the UFL vs. Azkals friendly match was the highest in the Visayas and the entry of a Cebu team can help spike the ratings of the UFL.

“This will also 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 suit,” Araneta said.

After that meeting with Araneta last Wednesday, the club held a series of emergency meetings first to get the members' consensus about the plan. When the club members agreed with the plan to field a UFL team, they immediately worked on identifying the coaching staff and the players.

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 and 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 two or three,” said Ceniza, who has less than a month to get the players in shape.

The last competitive 11-a-side tournament in Cebu was the Cebu Invitational Football Cup, also organized by the CAFC, last May.

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.

The coach also said he  wanted to tap collegiate players since they are in the best shape but they might not be able to play due to their ongoing Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. season.

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.

Cebu Queen City United is expected to debut in the UFL Cup mid-October and the 18-man team will be flying in for their games and will be flying out the next day.

“We can’t stay there because most of our players have jobs too,” said Musni.

As of now, Musni said they will be offering their players a per-season contract.

“We will also be paying for their insurance, salary and allowances,” said Musni.

6 comments:

cjeagle said...

Mike,

Acc. to the UFL facebook account, there are now 32 teams who have registered for the UFL Cup.

BTW, it is about time the 2nd largest city in the Philippines joins the highest professional football league in the Philippines. Cebu has so much potential to offer, not only with their players, but also with their rabid fan base, their financial clout and eventually infrastructure when the league eventually physically expands to the provinces.

cjeagle said...

I would also consider recruiting national team player, Ray Jonsson once his contract expires in a year or so, as he is no longer a regular starter with his team, Grindavik FC in Iceland at the age of 32. He spent the first 8 years of his life in Liloan, Cebu and speaks fluent Cebuano. He might even be a good candidate as playing coach.

Anonymous said...

I'm very excited to watch a game, especially if it would be played here. How much more if I will be playing. I've heard the practice and try-out will be around 6-8 am. Venue?... Don't have any clue. Tsk!

Mike said...

Roy would be a welcome addition on the team. Anonymous, I think they practice at Aboitiz Sports Field

Anonymous said...

Practice and try-outs at aboitiz sports field 6-8 am Monday to Friday. Sept 30 is the deadline to submit final line up, so interested players can still show up....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info guys! Go Cebu fooTball!!!