PHILIPPINE Air Force begins life without Chieffy Caligdong when it battles Nomads on Saturday night when the United Football League holds its first game at the new Mckinley Hill Football Field in Taguig.
With their star striker now with Green Archers United after being honorably discharged from the Armed Forces last December, the Airmen hope to turn to their recruits in their bid to regain their place among the league’s elite.
“I have young players that could play in (Chieffy’s) position,” Airmen coach Edzel Bracamonte said, making special mention of former Stallion booter Vince Braga and Adrian Bretana, as well as Paul Concepcion. “It’s their chance to play in the big league.”
And where else would the former UFL champions have a fresh start than the $1-million all-weather artificial pitch, which will be called the Emperador Stadium, the venue of their 6 p.m. matchup with Nomads.
With the field’s 2,000-seater grandstand still under construction, temporary bleachers that can hold 700 people are made available instead for the lone Division 1 match on Saturday.
Aside from Braga – who’s expected to partner with full-fledged star Ian Araneta up front – Bretana, and Concepcion, former PSG booter Kenneth Dolloso is another key addition as he replaces veteran Tats Mercado as the starting goalkeeper.
“Our advantage is our speed and the cohesion is there,” Bracamonte said. “I think nothing changes (despite the departure of Caligdong).
Nomads, which finished seventh in its inaugural appearance in the top flight last season, has a new Scottish coach in John Jofre and will be skippered by midfielder Phil Connolly.