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

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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

MALAYSIA SUPER LEAGUE

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

THAI LEAGUE 1

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

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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

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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

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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,

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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

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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

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Azkals midfielder Adam Reed joins Thai League 1 club Chainat Hornbill

Philippine Azkals midfielder Adam Reed gets acquired by Thai League 1 club, Chainat Hornbill, for the 2019 season.

The move means he becomes the second Filipino player in the club’s ranks along with Marco Casambre who was signed earlier.

The two players have formerly been with Davao Aguilas before the Filipino club pulled the plug on its professional team.

Information on this development first came out from Adam Reed himself through an Instagram story last morning of February 7, 2019 in the Thai province of Chai Nat [where the club is based], wearing the club’s training outfit.

A day later, February 8, Adam Reed’s acquisition has been finalized after completing a medical.

Adam Reed has been one of the main players of Davao Aguilas’ commendable performance during the 2018 PFL season when the club was almost able to win a silverware, only to come up short against Kaya FC Iloilo in the final of the inaugural Copa Paulino Alcantara.

The Filipino midfielder is a product of Sunderland AFC’s youth setup and has played on loan for renowned English clubs such as Portsmouth and Leyton Orient.

On the Philippine Azkals front, the versatile midfielder has been on legendary head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson’s rotation during the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 and the historic AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaigns, either as a starter or as a substitute.

Chainat Hornbill FC formally begins its 2019 Thai League 1 campaign on February 23, 2019 against Suphanburi FC which also has Filipino international Mark Hartmann in its squad.

Chainat Hornbill FC is already not new in hiring the services of Filipino footballers, as they already happened last 2018 when they signed forward Chima Uzoka who previously played for PFL clubs such as Ilocos United and Global Cebu.

Adam Reed’s addition makes it a total of ten Filipino players currently plying their trade in the Thai League 1.

Photo credit: Kieron Tan

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Azkals overseas fixtures for February 2019: Weekend 2

The Philippine Azkals based overseas are now slowly getting back into the pitch with the commencement of leagues in Asia while those based in Europe have their respective clubs ready to compete once again after the winter break.

Here are their fixtures you may follow this weekend [kickoff times are in Philippine Standard Time or GMT +8]:

Patrick Reichelt [Melaka United – Malaysia Super League]

PKNS FC vs Melaka United [Away] – February 9, 2019 [Saturday]. Kickoff at 9:00PM

After getting a good start with his new club Melaka United via a win at home against Petaling Jaya City FC, Patrick Reichelt and his teammates are aiming to build on the result as they visit PKNS to make it two wins in two matches.

Joshua Grommen [Petaling Jaya City – Malaysia Super League]

Petaling Jaya City vs Selangor [Home] – February 9, 2019 [Saturday]. Kickoff at 9:00PM

Joshua Grommen’s club may have slipped in its first MSL assignment against Melaka United but for their second fixture, they get to face Selangor at their home turf.

Although the Filipino defender received plaudits for his combative efforts by playing through an injury, him suiting up this weekend could still be in doubt as he gets monitored on his fitness after suffering a dislocated shoulder.

UPDATE: According to Rudolf, Joshua Grommen’s father, the player will feature for the squad and will wear a special shoulder brace so he can play.

Neil Etheridge [Cardiff City – Premier League]

Southampton vs Cardiff City FC [Away] – February 9, 2019 [Saturday]. Kickoff at 11:00PM

Cardiff City will build on the win they have achieved against Bournemouth the previous matchday with Azkals keeper Neil Etheridge pulling off some crucial saves. But they’ll be facing Southampton next time as visitors while they try to pull themselves out of the relegation zone.

Daisuke Sato [Sepsi OSK – Romania Liga I]

Sepsi OSK vs Dinamo Bucuresti [Home]- February 10, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff 2:00AM

Daisuke Sato’s club Sepsi OSK slipped against Voluntari in their post-winter break opener, but the next fixture will still most possibly be a challenge still as they go up against Dinamo Bucuresti, as the Sfantu Gheorghe-based club will try to keep themselves in the top half of the league and avoid the relegation playout.

Hikaru Minegishi [JL Chiangmai United – Thai League 2]

JL Chiangmai United vs Udon Thani FC [Home] – February 10, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff 7:00PM

Hikaru Minegishi will debut for his newly promoted club JL Chiangmai United in Thailand’s League 2, with the optimism of coming up with an excellent campaign in the second-tier.

Kevin Ray Mendoza Hansen [AC Horsens – Danish Superliga]

Hobro vs Horsens [Away] – February 10, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff at 7:00PM

Kevin Ray Mendoza will suit up for AC Horsens after the winter break. Let’s see if he will be a starter for the club.

Horsens still have six games left to improve their standing [currently 8th] and qualify for the championship round.

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

Erzgebirge Aue vs Ingolstadt – February 10, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff at 8:30PM

John-Patrick Strauss has yet to feature as a starter after decent performances for the Azkals in both the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 and AFC Cup 2019. The club will hope to climb further up the standings as they are currently in the lower half of the table [13th out of 18].

Photo credits: Hikaru Minegishi, Sepsi OSK, Cardiff City FC, Melaka United SA

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A citation on how the Ultras Filipinas came to be

The Philippine National Football Team, known as The Azkals, began its revival in the mid-2000’s which reached its zenith in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. A massive following began, then subsided, but one support group slowly came into existence and continued to thrive – the Ultras Filipinas.

There are several hear-says and “stories” circulating on how this culture of fanaticism for the Azkals began. This article [or this site] won’t even delve on creating [or recreating] that “history” as it just doesn’t seem right. Instead, this will point out on a written account tucked within the worldwide-web on how the Ultras movement in the Philippines began from the point of view of someone who has been within the scene way before most have began to get involved in.

Credit goes to blog site The Buddy with Glasses, Paollo Sebastian, who chronicled an overview on how this whole ultras way of support for the national team came to be as he points out two groups as the most prominent progenitors of it: The Philippine Air Force FC fans [being cited as the founders of Ultras Filipinas] and the Sons of Mighty Kaya of Kaya FC. The written account even goes to a much earlier phase with Don Bosco’s Futsal Team’s supporters the Futsaldiers also being mentioned as one of the groups that planted the seeds of this philosophy [from a local viewpoint] of showing unwavering passion for one’s club or team.

Without further delay, here is the link on the story of how the Ultras Filipinas came to existence:

Ultras Filipinas and the Sons of Mighty Kaya

Now, come 2019, with the impending launch of a new domestic league – The Philippine Premier League [PPL] – that will serve as a reboot of its doomed predecessor, the Philippines Football League [PFL], it has been known that The Philippine Air Force are coming back again in the fold to compete. If this comes into fruition, once the storied club that produced local “living Azkals legends” – the great Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong and Ian Araneta in its ranks – set its foot on the pitch, there is a good probability that its equally legendary supporters will be back on the terraces once again.

A big player in the creation and growth of football fan-culture in the Philippines, the founders of Ultras Filipinas – The Philippine Air Force Ultras – might be return once again in club football in loud voices, and they could add to the slowly but surely growing football club fanbases in the country.

Photo credit: Ultras Kaya