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United City to fly to Uzbekistan for AFC Champions League campaign

REIGNING Philippines Football League champion United City Football Club (UCFC) will fly to Uzbekistan for its centralized matches in the AFC Champions League.

Asia’s premier club football tournament will take place from June 25 to July 11 and will see UCFC initially test its mettle in Group I against Kawasaki Frontale of Japan, Beijing FC and either Daegu FC of Korea or Chiangrai United of Thailand.

It will be the debut outing of the team in the AFC Champions League as UCFC, having played in the tournament previously as Ceres-Negros FC; something it is very excited about.

“We are going to Uzbekistan!” the team wrote on its official Facebook page upon news of the venue for the games, whose staging was made to adjust because of the prevailing conditions with the pandemic.

In the tournament, UCFC will be led by veterans Stephan Schröck and Bienvenido Marañon, who both played key roles in the team maintaining its dominance in the local professional league last year.

UCFC was a runaway winner in the fourth season of the PFL, clinching the title with several matches still left to be played.

Mr. Schröck was the Golden Ball (MVP) winner while Mr. Marañon earned the Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals with seven.

Incidentally, both players are in the mix for roster spots in the Philippine national men’s football team’s campaign in the joint 2022 International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup and 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup qualifiers in early June, with Spaniard Marañon hoping to play as a naturalized player.

Apart from matches in Group I, the AFC also announced that Uzbekistan will play host to the remaining centralized matches in Group H.

Thailand, meanwhile, will be the venue for Groups F, G and J, which will take place from June 22 to July 11. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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