The United Football League (UFL) Cup kicks off its 2016 season with a clash between newly promoted Laos FC and second division rival JP Voltes FC on February 6 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The game will be part of the triple-header opening day that will also feature games between second division clubs Forza FC and Agila-MSA FC, as well as returning Global FC and Pasargad FC.
Global was suspended in last year’s competition because of eligibility issues of one of its players.
The season-opening tournament of the country’s top football league will feature a total of 12 clubs, which have been divided into two groups during the draw held on Wednesday.
Defending Cup champion Kaya FC has been drawn in Group A together with Stallion FC, JP Voltes, Laos, Forza and Agila while Ceres La Salle FC goes to Group B with top first division clubs Loyola Meralco Sparks FC, Green Archers United FC, Global FC and second division clubs Nomads FC and Pasargad.
Kaya will start its title-retention bid on February 7 as it faces familiar foe and fellow top-flight squad Stallion.
“We’re a bit annoyed that we have a short time to celebrate our championship but that’s the motivation,” said Kaya team manager Paul Tolentino.
Kaya FC captured the Cup last year at the expense of Ceres in an extra time thriller, which ended with the former winning, 4-2 on penalties.
Tolentino stressed that despite a favorable draw, they still expect a stiff competition in each of their preliminary games.
“At the end of the tournament there’s an AFC Cup at stake. It will be harder this time because it’s the first tournament of the season and everyone wants to win it,” he concluded.
JAELLE NEVIN REYES