THE United Football League has organized a fundraising exhibition match between the 23-under Azkals and the UFL All-Stars on Sunday at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill, Taguig.
With the country’s sports leaders saying the football team “must prove they are a quality team” before it can be considered as part of the contingent for the Southeast Asian Games, the UFL has decided to put up the exhibition match to gauge the 23-under squad’s capability.
It will be the 23-under Azkals' first match as a unit on home soil. They began preparations last month with a friendly against their Singaporean counterparts. The match ended in a 1-0 loss.
There has yet been a formal announcement, but the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission have strongly hinted in past weeks of plans to exclude men’s football, as well as its women’s and futsal counterparts, from the delegation.
“We put up this match because we feel the U-23 Azkals have something to prove,” UFL marketing manager Coco Torre said on Tuesday during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Shakey’s Malate along with media officer Jing Jamlang.
“We thought of supporting them by exposing their quality through pitting them against the UFL’s best players and through monetary as well through the ticket sales, which will be for the benefit of the team,” he added.
Bannered by Mark Hartmann, Joshua Beloya, Patrick Deyto, Ronnie Aguisanda, and Nathan Alquiros, the 23-under Azkals of Scottish coach Brian Reid of Global are expected to face stiff competition against a more experienced side, composed of the league’s top local and foreign booters.
The UFL All Stars, assembled only on Monday, features former national team members in Chieffy Caligdong and Tating Pasilan of Green Archers United, Ruben Doctora of newly crowned champion Stallion, Misagh Bahadoran and Jerry Barbaso of Global, Ref Cuaresma and Chad Gould of Loyola Meralco, Chris Greatwich and Anton del Rosario of Kaya, Pachanga-Diliman’s Anto Gonzales, and Philippine Army’s Roel Gener and Boogie Margarse.
The Stallions’ Hector Zaghi and Gui Hazegawa, Izzo El-Habib and Val Kama of Global, and Emmanuel Mbata of PSG are the foreigners in the roster, handled by the Stallions’ Ernie Nierras.
The match, set to kick off at 8 p.m., will be preceded by the second leg of the promotion/relegation playoff between Division 1 ninth-placer Army and Division 2 runner-up Union Internacionale Manila.
The Troopers hold a two-goal lead after a come-from-behind 5-3 win in the first leg on Sunday.
The complete rosters:
Amani Aguinaldo, Ronnie Aguisanda, Nathan Alquiros, Fitch Arboleda, Joshua Beloya, Paolo Bugas, Patrick Deyto, Neil Dorimon, Raymark Fernandez, David Fornea, Mark Hartmann, Carlo Liay, Angelo Marasigan, Niño Ochoterena, Nathan Octavio, Nick O’Donnell, Deo Seguinal, Jeremy Theuer, Jinggoy Valmayor
Antonio Albor, Misagh Bahadoran, Jerry Barbaso, Chieffy Caligdong, Ref Cuaresma, Anton del Rosario, Ruben Doctora, Izzo El-Habib, Shirmar Felongco, Roel Gener, Anto Gonzales, Chad Gould, Chris Greatwich, Matthew Hartmann, Gui Hazegawa, Bervic Italia, Val Kama, Boogie Margarse, Emmanuel Mbata, Jake Morallo, Matthew Nierras, Tating Pasilan, Hector Zaghi