Originally published by BusinessWorld
NEW name, same result.
For the fourth straight year, United City Football Club (Ceres-Negros FC) is taking home the championship of the Philippines Football League (PFL).
United City FC, which took over from Ceres in the offseason, bagged the PFL title with a game to spare after routing Stallion-Laguna FC, 7-1, on Friday at the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) National Training Center in Carmona. Cavite.
The win gave United City FC (4-0-0) another three points to take its total to 12, four clear of the second-running team Kaya FC-Iloilo, rendering the former unreachable.
The team got an opening to cop the title right away after Kaya (2-2-0) was held to a nil-nil draw by Mendiola FC 1991 earlier on Friday.
“When we learned that Kaya was held to a draw, we said to the players we needed to seal the game against Stallion. Our main objective was to really win this game at all cost,” said United City FC coach Frank Muescan post-match.
Mr. Muescan took on coaching duties for the team after hired coach Trevor Morgan could not make it for the tournament because of travel restrictions.
United City FC exactly knew what it wanted to do against Stallion.
From a slim 2-1 halftime edge, the team exploded for five goals in the second half to convincingly put the game away.
Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon got his second hat-trick of the tournament, scoring in the 58th, 66th, and 74th minute. Midfielder Mike Ott, meanwhile, secured a brace (4th and 54th), with Takashi Uddawara and OJ Porteria grabbing a goal each in the rout.
With his team at the top for four straight years now, Mr. Maranon gave credit to the entire squad and to the team’s new management for staying the course.
“It is good that even if we changed management, we are still the best team in the Philippines and we showed it again today,” he said, adding that sealing a spot in the AFC Champions League for being the newly crowned PFL champion was icing on the cake.
“Now we will have a chance in playing strong clubs from China, Japan, and Korea which we all look forward to next year.”
Despite the championship being settled, games in the PFL continue with a triple-header on Monday – Azkals Development Team versus Stallion (9 a.m.), Maharlika Manila FC against Mendiola (4 p.m.), and United City FC vs. Kaya (8 p.m.).
The 2020 PFL season concludes on Nov. 12 with Mendiola vs. Stallion at 4:30 p.m.
This year’s coronavirus pandemic-hit PFL season is being done in a bubble setup for two weeks with the team on top in the end crowned as champion.
The PFF National Training Center is the official game venue while Seda Nuvali in Santa Rosa, Laguna, houses the teams and the league for the duration of the tournament.
During the tournament, all clubs are asked to strictly adhere to health and safety protocols prescribed for the league.
PFL matches can be viewed over the PFL Facebook page. PFL YouTube Channel, 1Play Sports, EXPTV Channel and www.PFLTV.ph.— Michael Angelo S. Murillo