WHETHER Ceres La Salle’s refusal to release its Azkals for national team duty to focus on the United Football League benefited them or not will be known on Tuesday when it takes on Pachanga Diliman in the semifinals of UFL’s Football Alliance League Cup at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The newly promoted side was the subject of scorn after it refused to lend standouts Patrick Reichelt, Juani Guirado, Manny Ott, and Jeffrey Christiaens to the national team for a friendly against Nepal on Saturday.
The Azkals hardly missed the Ceres players’ services and handily won 3-0, and now the emerging club tries to silence the critics as it goes for a spot in the final.
“We’ve been waiting for this,” said Ceres team manager Ali Go, whose squad is seeking another UFL silverware after ruling Division 2 early this year.
“We’ve been training so hard to win a championship. We will not stop until we are champions.”
The Bacolod-based side, the only unbeaten team remaining in the tournament, tries to move on the verge of the title as it faces a dangerous Pachanga side at 8:15 p.m.
Another former Division 2 titlist, Pachanga has constantly produced results wihtout much fanfare.
"The players have great heart, so we will be ready,” said Pachanga coach Yuki Matsuda, who will draw strength from Korean Lee Jeong Woo, UAAP top striker Jinggoy Valmayor, and Shayan Jafary.
The winner faces the survivor of the other Final Four pairing pitting powerhouse squads Global FC and Loyola Meralco earlier at 4:45 p.m.