The 2013 United Football League kicks off Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Stadium with expectations high for a most competitive season yet with all 10 first division teams beefing up their lineups.
The league will now also hold matches at the McKinley Hill all-weather artificial turf in Taguig, which means less disruptions in the schedule as the UFL is the priority in the facility, while TV broadcaster AKTV will be giving the league more exposure by airing two match days a week.
Global faces a daunting task of defending its league title with UFL Cup champion Stallion Green Archers Globe emerging as strong contenders along with traditional favorites Loyola Meralco and Kaya.
“The rest of the teams in the league are strong. It will be tough defending our title,” said Global’s Scottish coach Brian Reid, whose side will open its campaign against Pasargad at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Newly promoted Pachanga Diliman hopes to make an impact in its first season in the top flight, while Nomads and Army remain dangerous opponents for the league’s heavyweights.
Former champion Air Force hopes to arrest the decline that marked its last two tournaments following the acquisition of several key players from Stallion.
The Airmen lost their most influential player in Chieffy Caligdong, whose move to GAU considerably boosted the Archers’ stock. Kaya also created a stir by signing up veteran internationalist Chris Greatwich.
The league opens with Loyola Meralco and Army tangling in the opener at 5:15 p.m. The Sparks also made some significant moves during the off-season by acquiring Freddie Gonzalez and Jalsor Soriano from Pachanga.
“We’re excited with the football season and the continuing partnership with AKTV,” said UFL chair Santi Araneta.
AKTV executive Vitto Lazatin said the growth of the league is a good indication of where football in the country is headed.
“The level of talent is very high and we’re putting UFL in a position where more people will be able to watch the matches on TV,” said Lazatin of the decision to air live matches on Tuesdays and Thursdays.