AFTER ruling the United Football League Cup, a beefed-up Stallion FC hopes to stamp its mark in League play when it makes its debut against Green Archers United on Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Stallions, who finished fourth last season, parade 14 new players in their 5:15 meeting with the Archers.
The returning Bo Bae Park, American defender Jeremy Hohn, and Australian Jessy Martindale are among the notable additions for the Stallions, who have an added attraction with the pickups of celebrities Daniel Matsunaga, Andrew Wolff and Fabio Ide.
While the acquisitions are expected to give them a boost, the Stallions will still be led by Spanish standouts Rufo Sanchez and Joaco Cañas, as well as UFL Cup Golden Ball recipient Ruben ‘Balut’ Doctora Jr., national team mainstay Jason de Jong, and goalkeeper Wilson Muñoz.
Despite the reinforced roster, Stallion coach Ernie Nierras, whose team bowed out as early as the Round of 16 of the Philippine Football Federation-Smart National Club Championship to eventual winner Ceres, believes defending champion Global remains the favorite, followed by Philippine Air Force.
“The favorite is still Global,” said Nierras, whose team has now partnered with Sta. Lucia. "There’s gonna be lots of pressure on and Air Force because they took half of my players so they’re the next favorite.”
The Archers also have a retooled lineup that includes former Stallion player Jovanie Simpron. Chieffy Caligdong, the Archers most significant offseason signing, will miss the game along with De Jong due to national team duty.
Kaya, now without top center-backs Aly Borromeo and Jason Sabio, faces Pachanga-Diliman in the 7:30 p.m. match.
With holdovers Nate Burkey, OJ Porteria, Jonah Romero, and Antonio Ugarte, as well as top acquisition in veteran Azkal Chris Greatwich, Kaya now shifts to a more offensive-oriented approach in its games.