UFL champ to vie in AFC Pres Cup?

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 14 2011 10:43 AM | Updated as of Dec 14 2011 06:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Air Force Phoenix FC, the reigning United Football League (UFL) Cup champions led by Azkals Chieffy Caligdong and Ian Araneta, may get to compete in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President's Cup, an annual international competition among clubs from “emerging nations” in Asia.

UFL president Randy Roxas said the UFL, which has recently concluded a successful Cup competition, is working things out with the Philippine Football Federation and the AFC for the possible participation of UFL's League titlist to next year's President's Cup.

"The President’s Cup is where our ASEAN neighbors are also participating and it’s less stringent in terms of requirements, like stadium capacity so it's the right tournament for us to compete in internationally," Roxas said during yesterday's PSA Forum.

The qualification stage for the President’s Cup, the third-tier club tourney under the AFC, is set by March 2012.

"Since our (UFL's upcoming) League competitions will only end in June 2012, the likelihood is that we'll ask the League champions last time, Air Force, to represent the UFL in the AFC President's Cup. We're waiting for clearance from the PFF and likewise the AFC," Roxas said.

Caligdong's PAF has ruled the two League competitions staged by the UFL and added the Cup jewel following a 2-0 disposal of Phil Younghusband and the Loyola Meralco Sparks before a good crowd of 6,000 over the weekend at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

"That was the first time for a domestic game to be watched by some 6,000 fans in the stadium. Goes to show that football is growing," said Roxas, also noting the leap in terms of competitiveness.

"Clearly the level of play has improved, even on the part of the domestic players. As shown by Ian and Chieffy and the Air Force, local-bred players can pull their own against foreign-bred players," Roxas added.

The UFL's League hostilities will begin in January, featuring 10 teams in the first division, led by two-time defending champ PAF, former Cup holders Global, Kaya and Loyola, and another 10 sides in the second division.