Defending champion University of the Philippines (UP) faces University of the East sans its key players in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s football tournament today at the Moro Lorenzo Field in Quezon City.
Fighting Maroons mainstays Daniel Gadia, Ace Villanueva and Julian Clarino will miss the 4 p.m. encounter against the Red Warriors due to their commitment with the national team.
“It will be a chance for the others to step up,” said UP head coach Anto Gonzales.
The three UP players joined the young Azkals in their training camp in Bahrain where they will play a couple of friendly matches against Bahrain’s Under-23 squad.
Gonzales added the match would be an opportunity for him to know the outlook of the Fighting Maroons next season as Gadia and Villanueva are both graduating this year.
“Looking forward, we will be missing the services of Gadia and Villanueva next year so it’s a good gauge of how the team is going to be next season,” he added.
UP is currently No. 2 in the standings with a 5-3-1 (win-draw-loss) record while UE is No. 7 with just a win, two draws and six losses.
The Fighting Maroons are coming off a 1-0 squeaker over Far Eastern University while the Red Warriors have lost their last two assignments against University of Santo Tomas and De La Salle University.
In the 2 p.m. first game, National University battles Adamson University.
The Bulldogs hold a 3-1-5 card while the Soaring Falcons will try to snap a six-game losing streak.