MANILA, Philippines - The United Football League kicks off its new season today with a pair of high-powered matches pitting title favorites Global and Kaya against Pasargad and Green Archers United at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Fil-German Denis Santos Wolf, the emerging Azkals star who led Team Phl's Peace Cup title conquest last weekend, debuts for Global, the reigning champions, when they clash with the Pasargad side in the 5 p.m. opener.
Kaya, bolstered by the return of playing team captain and assistant coach Aly Borromeo from an ACL injury, tangle with a dangerous Green Archers United at 7 p.m., raring to improve its third place finish the last time out.
Both matches will be aired live on AKTV on IBC 13, according to Sports5 manager Vitto Lazatin.
Borromeo’s presence is expected to strengthen the already formidable defense by the LBC-bankrolled Kaya side, which boasts of Ivory Coast’s Eric Dagroh, Fil-Am Nate Burkey, Yannick Tuason, Jason Sabio, Anton and Armand del Rosario, Jonah Romero, Lexton Moy and Kross Ubiam.
But focus will be on Wolf, whose four goals in the Peace Cup not only netted him the MVP and Golden Boot titles but likewise helped propel the Phl to its first international title in 99 years.
But Wolf, who played in the Bundesliga years back before bringing his act to the UFL, will have to work doubly hard in the absence of Fil-Spanish Angel Guirado, who has opted to sign up with an Indian club.
Aside from Wolf, the other Global mainstays are Marvin and Marwin Angeles, Matthew Uy and Demetrius Omphroy along with Fil-Iranian Misagh Bahadoran and Sudanese striker Izzo El Habbib.
Global and Pasargad are in Group A alongside Pasargad, Navy, General Trias and Team Socceroo while Kaya and Green Archers United are bracketed with Diliman, Forza and Dolphins United in Group B.
Loyola Meralco Sparks, bannered by the Younghusband siblings of Phil and James, along with Chad Gould, PJ Fasdrigalan, and Koreans Byeong Yeol Jeong, Park Minho, Jo Won Jang and Hoon Goo Heo, are in Group C with Nomads, Pachanga, Laos FC and Mendiola.
Defending Cup champion Air Force and Stallion head Group D along with Army, Sta. Lucia and Agila FC.
UFL chair Santi Araneta of Kaya said this season will be more exciting with a level playing field.
"Compared to last year, there will be no 'Group of Death' this year because all the teams got the fair and equal distribution of teams," said Araneta.