UNITED City FC is labeled as the favorite for the 2020 Philippines Football League brought to you by Qatar Airways despite being the newcomer.
While they are indeed a new club for the bubble season of the league, most of the players of UCFC are remnants of the Ceres-Negros FC squad that captured the crown since the league’s inception in 2017.
That’s enough for the other clubs to tag UCFC as the ‘team-to-beat’ this season.
“UCFC is like a new club but the roster is 80, 90 percent holdovers from the previous owners under Ceres,” said Kaya FC-Iloilo team manager Paul Tolentino. “On paper, they would still be favorites. We would have to see if that continuity has transferred over to the new ownership.”
Azkals skipper Stephan Schrock, Spanish striker Bienve Maranon, and 14 other players have joined UCFC after Ceres-Negros FC transferred its ownership to new investors during the offseason.
Stallion-Laguna coach Ernie Nierras, meanwhile, said the club doesn’t need a lot of motivation for the season.
“UCFC is a newly-owned team. You don’t have to motivate these guys. It’s the same players, and honestly, they are getting motivation to prove themselves this year and I’m sure they will do a great job performing for the new ownership,” said Nierras.
Kaya FC and Stallion are two of the clubs that are expected to figure prominently in the chase for the crown in the bubble where a single-round series will be held with the club with the most points adjudged as the champion.
“I would fully expect that they would be a very difficult challenge to take on, one that we look forward to,” said Tolentino, whose club finished second in the league table last year.