Philippines’ top football clubs to begin AFC Cup 2019 campaigns

Two of the biggest clubs in Philippine football, with differing situations in terms of how they arrive respectively in the tournament are set to kick-off their AFC Cup campaigns this week.

Ceres-Negros FC host Burmese club Shan United in Panaad on Tuesday while Kaya Iloilo visit Lao Toyota in Vientianne, Laos on Wednesday.

Despite coming in with differing track records in the tournament, both Ceres and Kaya arrive with the same aim – to get a winning start in their bid to contend and have a lengthy participation in the AFC’s most prestigious continental club tournament next to the Champions League.

Unwavering desire: Ceres-Negros FC

After being stopped in their tracks by Yangon United in just the first hurdle, The Busmen will try to move on immediately and put the disappointment from their lackluster AFC Champions League campaign behind as they commence their mission on familiar territory – the AFC Cup against Shan United.

A regular participant since 2015, Ceres-Negros use this continental platform to further test their mettle in the midst of their dominance of the Philippines’ domestic league.

Now buoyed by goalkeeper Jun Badelic as a reinforcement for primary stopper Roland Muller along with Ronilo Bayan Jr. and with the addition of Bosnian forward Mahir Karic after the club’s Champions League demise, Ceres-Negros will most likely be back with something to prove to their fans: That their drive to achieve further success has not diminished.

A now loaded squad with the likes of Stephan Schrock, Bienvenido Maranon, and Alvaro Silva – to name a few – come February 26 at 7:30PM, we will see if the 2017 ASEAN Zone champions can build their momentum once again for another stellar campaign this 2019.

The lions’ hunger: Kaya FC Iloilo

With an absence of two years after their competition debut last 2016 (where they reached the round of 16), The Lions of Kaya FC once again are raring to go back in action in the continental stage after winning the 2018 Copa Paulino Alcantara (the league cup).

The addition of defender Simone Rota and versatile forward Darryl Roberts, along with the likes of established key talents like Jovin Bedic, Jordan Mintah and Alfred Osei, the Iloilo-based outfit will aim to once again announce that they belong in the international club tournament as league cup champions in their country.

Come the 27th of February, they will face their first big challenge against Lao Toyota in an away fixture at 7:30PM in the National Stadium in Vientianne, Laos.

Photo credit: Ceres-Negros FC and Kaya FC Iloilo


Azkals overseas: February 2019 weekend 4 fixtures

There’s a bit of a shakeup in the Azkals overseas lineup as Amani Aguinaldo and Luke Woodland join PKNP and Kuala Lumpur FA respectively in the Malaysia Super League.

Also, with the Thai League 1 beginning this weekend, it is going to be a pretty busy set of fixtures with the list of matches coming this week [all kickoff schedules are in Philippine Standard Time]:

Neil Etheridge [GK, Cardiff City FC – Premier League]

Cardiff City vs Watford – February 23 [Saturday], 3:45 AM

Daisuke Sato [DF, Sepsi OSK – Romanian Liga I Playoff]

Sepsi OSK vs Viitorul – Feburary 23 [Saturday], 1:00AM

Kevin Ray Mendoza [GK, AC Horsens – Danish Superliga]

AC Horsens vs Odense Boldklub – February 24 [Sunday], 9:00PM

John-Patrick Strauß [MF, FC Erzgebirge Aue – 2. Bundesliga]

Erzgebirge Aue vs FC Duisburg – February 24 [Sunday], 9:30PM

Hikaru Minegishi [MF, JL Chiangmai United – Thai League 2]

Sisaket FC vs JL Chiangmai United – February 23 [Saturday], 9:00PM


Joshua Grommen [DF, PJ City FC]: PJ City FC vs Kedah FA [Home] – February 22 [Friday], 9:00PM

Patrick Reichelt [MF/FW, Melaka United]: Johor Darul Ta’zim vs Melaka United – February 23 [Saturday], 9:00PM

Luke Woodland [DF/MF, Kuala Lumpur FA]: Kuala Lumpur vs Terengganu – February 22 [Friday], 9:00PM

Amani Aguinaldo [DF, PKNP FC]: PKNS vs PKNP – February 23 [Saturday], 9:00PM


Amin Nazari [MF], Manuel Ott [MF] – Ratchaburi Mitr Phol: Ratchaburi Mitr Phol vs Trat FC – February 22 [Friday], 9:00PM

Marco Casambre [DF], Adam Reed [MF] – Chainat Hornbill vs Mark Hartmann [FW, Suphanburi FC]: Chainat Hornbill vs Suphanburi – February 23 [Saturday], 7:45PM

Stephan Palla [DF], Javier Patino [FW] – Buriram United: Buriram United vs Chonburi – February 23 [Saturday], 8:00PM

Iain Ramsay [MF, Sukhothai FC] vs Michael Falkesgaard [GK, Bangkok United]: Sukhothai vs Bangkok United – Feburary 24 [Sunday], 7:00PM

Photo credits: PKNP FC Instagram, Kuala Lumpur FA Instagram


Azkals in Malaysia: Reichelt and Melaka United snatch a draw; Grommen and PJ City get first win.

Massive results for both Azkals Patrick Reichelt and Joshua Grommen in their respective Malaysia Super League teams last February 16 as Melaka United get a draw in a pulsating encounter against top team Pahang while Petaling Jaya City get first win in a pulsating thriller against PKNP.

Melaka United 1 – 1 Pahang

Hosts Melaka United had to dig deep to get an equalizer via a Safiq Rahim penalty kick late in the 89th minute to cancel out Pahang’s 5th minute opener as both previously perfect teams shared spoils at the final whistle.

Visitors Pahang got the breakthrough in just the 5th minute as Herold Goulon converted a spilled ball by Melaka United goalkeeper Khairul Fami.

Filipino winger Patrick Reichelt’s first half header could have been an equalizer but his attempt was saved by the opposing goalkeeper Helmi Eliza.

Most of the match have been a battle of the goalkeepers, thwarting both squads’ attacking attempts.

But an uncharacteristic foul by Eliza in the box late in the match has given the hosts a chance to level things through a penalty kick which Safiq Rahim was able to convert.

PKNP 2 – 3 Petaling Jaya City FC

Visiting side Petaling Jaya City FC [also known as PJ City FC] got their first three points in the table after edging out hosts PKNP after going a goal down twice with the visiting side’s midfielder Barathkumar scoring the winning goal in the 81st minute.

Filipino defender for PJ City, Joshua Grommen, has been in the thick of things as a starter and part of the backline in the thrilling fixture.

PJ City FC will next face current league leaders Kedah FA in a home fixture on Friday, February 22, at 9:00PM while Melaka United will visit Johor Darul Ta’zim in a match between undefeated sides on Saturday, February 23, at 9:00PM

Photo credits: Melaka United, PKNPMalaysian Football League


Home-based talents dominate Philippines squad for AFF U-22 Championship

A host locally based talents make up most of the Philippine squads for the upcoming AFF U-22 Championship 2019 which will be held in Phnom Penh Cambodia starting February 17.

The core of talents mainly come from universities with renowned football programs that are competing in the UAAP and NCAA.

The Philippines’ 23-man squad for the AFF U-22 Championship 2019

Adding professional experience in the team are Kaya FC Iloilo defender Dean Ebarle and Ceres-Negros midfielder Dylan De Bruycker.

Jordan Jarvis, currently of Hong Kong-based Eastern Sports Club has been a professional in Philippine club football before his recently completed transfer overseas. He can play varied roles either in midfield or defense but mainly functions as a wingback.

As for overseas-based talents, Yale University midfielder Mark Winhoffer and Sunderland RCA FC’s Troy Limbo round up a squad that is full of potential.

Leading the coaching staff is head coach Salvador Salvacion with Andres Gonzales, Randolfo Clarino, Christopher Pedimonte, and Ralph Datoy as his assistants.

The Philippine U-22 squad open their campaign on February 17 against Vietnam [kick-off at 4:30PM Philippine Time], followed by a match against Thailand on February 19 [kickoff at 4:30PM] and lastly on February 21 against Timor Leste [kick-off at 7:30PM].

Photo credit: Philippine Football Federation


Azkals in overseas leagues fixtures for February 2019: Weekend 3

It’s the third weekend of February as the Philippine Azkals in Europe, Malaysia and Thai League 2 continue with their respective campaigns.

Here are the schedules for this upcoming matchdays for the week [All schedules are in Philippine Standard Time, GMT +8]:

Hikaru Minegishi [JL Chaingmai United – Thai League 2]

JL Chiangmai vs Khon Kaen [Home] – February 16 [Saturday]. Kickoff: 8:00PM

After opening their league campaign with a 1-0 loss away from home against Udonthani last February 10, JL Chiangmai United with Filipino midfielder Hikaru Minegishi are about to have their first home match against Khon Kaen which also lost their first assignment as both teams try to get their first win of the season.

Joshua Grommen [Petaling Jaya City – Malaysia Super League]

PKNP vs Petaling Jaya City [Away] – February 16, 2019 [Saturday]. Kickoff: 9:00PM

A 1-1 draw against Selangor last February 9, earned Filipino defender Joshua Grommen’s PJ City FC their first point in the standings after two matches.

But the next fixture in their bid to get their first three points could be a challenging one as they are on an away mission against PKNP, which share an identical record of one loss and a draw.

Patrick Reichelt [Melaka United – Malaysia Super League]

Melaka United vs Pahang [Home] – February 16, 2019 [Saturday]. Kickoff at 9:00PM

After getting their second win in as many matches in the Super League from a 1-0 win against hosts PKNS – with Filipino midfielder Patrick Reichelt even getting Man of the Match honors, Melaka United aim to keep their perfect start to the season in their third fixture.

It will be easier said than done though as they host current leaders Pahang who are on a goalscoring spree with six goals scored and only one conceded in just two matches.

Daisuke Sato [Sepsi OSK – Romania Liga I]

Gaz Metan vs Sepsi OSK [Away]- February 17, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff 11:30PM

Azkals defender Daisuke Sato’s club Sepsi OSK have had a rough start after the winter break, dropping their previous two fixtures.

Although the results did not affect their standing in the table as they proceed for the championship playoff round, they would need to get a win away against Gaz Metan in the hopes of kicking off their campaign back to winning ways.

John-Patrick Strauss [FC Erzgebirge Aue – 2. Bundesliga]

FC St. Pauli vs Erzgebirge Aue [Away] – February 16, 2019 [Saturday]. Kickoff at 8:00PM

Erzgebirge Aue and Filipino midfielder John-Patrick Strauss hope to get the breakthrough win after getting back to back losses in their return from winter break.

Kevin Ray Mendoza Hansen [AC Horsens – Danish Superliga]

Horsens vs Vendsyssel FF [Home] – February 17, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff at 7:00PM.

After getting a point in a goalless away fixture against Hobro, AC Horsens and Azkals goalkeeper Kevin Ray Mendoza host Vendsyssel to get full three points after the winter break.

Photo credits: Sepsi OSK, Melaka United, JL Chiangmai United,


Out of the ashes of Global, United Makati rises

In a press conference held last February 12, 2019, a club ceased to exist as Global [Cebu] FC as a new name comes into fruition in the identity of United Makati FC.

Despite the complete rebrand, with the relocation and the change of name, the club opted to keep intact its history acknowledging the Global FC past.

In a Facebook post, a new crest has been unveiled as well with the three championships achieved by its then almighty predecessor still present.

Along with the rebrand came the pressing issue on the unpaid wages of its players which, in a report by Beatrice Go of Rappler, is set to be addressed in the next months as per owner and CEO, Mark Jarvis.

Also tackled in this development, which may definitely have given a hand to addressing the payroll concerns, is the new partnership with international sports marketing agency MMZ Sportz Asia which is currently headed by CEO Eric Gottschalk.

It may still be very early at this moment, but with these developments, the embattled club definitely has shown some life with a significant degree of optimism and hope in the immediate future.

Global Cebu, before its recent challenges, has been a major force in Philippine club football in the past, winning three league titles, and being a regular participant in the AFC Cup since Filipino clubs became eligible to compete in AFC-sanctioned continental club competitions.

Photo credit: United Makati FC


A full Azkals squad now playing in Thailand

With midfielder Adam Reed’s joining with Thai League 1 club Chainat Hornbill, Thailand now has a full squad of eleven Filipino internationals playing in its football leagues.

Here is the list of Filipino footballers now signed with Thai clubs:

  • Javier Patino – Forward, Buriram United
  • Mark Hartmann – Forward, Suphanburi FC
  • Iain Ramsay – Winger/Midfielder, Sukhothai FC
  • Manuel Ott – Midfielder, Ratchaburi Mitr Phol
  • Amin Nazari – Midfielder, Ratchaburi Mitr Phol
  • Adam Reed – Midfielder, Chainat Hornbill
  • Hikaru Minegishi – Midfielder, JL Chiangmai United [Thai League 2]
  • Stephan Palla – Defender, Buriram United
  • Luke Woodland – Defender, Buriram United
  • Marco Casambre – Defender, Chainat Hornbill
  • Michael Falkesgaard – Goalkeeper, Bangkok United

Here’s how the Azkals 11 in Thailand would look like if lined up as one team [3-5-2 formation]:

Seeing the wealth of talent, it’s a pretty decent and competitive lineup that could very much stand to-to-toe against other clubs or teams.

Photo credits: Bangkok United, Buriram United, Ratchaburi Mitr Phol, Chainat Hornbill