Villaflor: Go check your crazy football calendar

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Monday, May 5, 2014


LOOKING at the local and international football calendar these days can be dizzying.

Just barely two weeks after Cebu City hosted the friendly between the Philippine Azkals and Malaysia, which ended in another draw, Bacolod City will serve as venue for the Group B matches of the 2014 AFC President’s Cup, which kicks off today.

Last year around the same time, Cebu City also hosted Group B of the tournament for clubs from “emerging countries,” with Global FC, as 2012 United Football League champions, representing the Philippines. With one win and two losses, Global failed to advance to the final stage in the 2013 tournament.

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Now Ceres FC carries the honor of carrying the country’s flag, being the champions of the PFF-Smart National Club Championship, which served as the qualifiers for the Philippine club representative.

Let’s hope that Ceres, a club that was founded only two years ago, does better at the Panaad Stadium against Rimyongsu of North Korea, HTTU Agabat of Turkmenistan, and Tatung of Chinese Taipei.

Ceres, which plays in the UFL second division but will move up to the first division in the next season, will open the tournament against Rimyongsu.

SINGAPORE CUP. In less than three weeks, two UFL clubs will see action in the 2014 RHB Singapore Cup. Global FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks will return to Singapore in pursuit of international club glory.

The Sparks, the first UFL club to play in an international tournament, made it as far as the semifinals in the 2012 edition, and reached the quarterfinals in last year’s tournament. Global, which joined the tournament only last year, advanced to the semifinals.

In the knockout preliminary round that starts on May 25, Global will go up anew against Brunei DPMM FC, which it edged in their quarterfinal matchup last year, while the Sparks will face SHB Champasak FC of Laos.

Either Global or Loyola has a decent chance of winning the RHB Singapore Cup tournament. Singapore-based Filipino supporters would be more than thrilled should that happen.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL. Earlier on the same day, May 25, two Spanish sides from the same city will clash in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final. European giants Real Madrid will face city rivals Atletico Madrid in yet another intriguing matchup.

The two clubs are still slugging it out in the La Liga race—Atletico with 88 points has two games left, while Real with 83 points has three.

An Atletico win in the La Liga will shake up the Spanish establishment, and this could only mean good news for the sport, considering traditional powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona would now have to contend with another legit challenger, Atletico, in the seasons to come.

Meanwhile, with tensions building to the run up to the Champions League final, one couldn’t ask for a better ending than this.

THE WORLD CUP, OF COURSE. And just when you thought it couldn’t get more massive for football this year, the biggest sporting event on the planet will kick off this June 12, and all of humanity will be watching.

Not to be left out, Filipino fans won’t mind losing sleep for a month as the 2014 World Cup mania spreads all over the land. Suppliers of football kits, balls and paraphernalia will make a killing. Football-themed events, activities, stunts and gimmicks will bombard the senses.

Football news will find its way once more to the Philippine sports and lifestyle sections, and eventually to the front pages, with banner headlines screaming “World Cup fever,” a phenomenon that comes only once every four years. And social media, of course, will embrace all this football madness like it never has.

Everyone will love football, but who’s complaining?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 06, 2014.

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