The invite for the Stallion FC contract signing at the Taipan Restaurant in the PhilamLife building read "Business Attire only." Being a member of the Pinoy Sports press corp, I naturally ignored it. Bad move.
My untucked Polo shirt, jeans and black rubber shoes did not pass muster and I was forced to go home and change into something spiffier.
Penson Stallion FC is similarly all business this coming UFL Cup with the arrival of three new players, Spaniards Joaquin Canas Garcia (Joaco), Rufino Familiar Sanchez (Rufo) and Fil-Dutchman Jason De Jong of the Azkals.
"Wala silang arte" says Stallion coach Ernie Nierras of the team's new members. "Maging sa practice o sa laro, pareho ang intensity."
Nierras leads the team alongside Dr. Pee Eun Hyung from Korea. The highly regarded Dr. Pee was not at the event because he was in Korea.
Pinoy Futbol fans may remember Joaco and Rufo from the Dili Kamo Nag-iisa Sendong relief match earlier in the year. The two Spaniards were in the CF Internacional de Madrid side that walloped the Azkals 3-1.
The Rufo was supposed to start playing for Stallion during last league's transfer window but those plans did not push through because there was a possibility that CFIM would be promoted to a higher division.
I interviewed them with my broken Spanish and Joaco's somewhat passable English. Rufo's English is very limited but I am told he will be taking lessons both in Manila and Iloilo.
Joaco is a 180cm-tall center back who will partner with Nam Yeol Woo in the heart of the Stallion back four. Rufo is a 182 cm high center-forward who plans to disturb the nets with Ruben Doctora, the captain of Stallion, who assumes the second striker role.
"Magaling mag-organize ng depensa si Joaco" says Doctora. Observers in practice have noted that Joaco likes to talk to his teammates non-stop during scrimmages.
Stallion at one point sat atop the UFL league table with shocking 4-1 wins over Loyola Meralco Sparks and Air Force. But they soon lost momentum and were caught and passed by Global, Meralco, and Kaya.
The Barotac Nuevo-based club wishes to put that behind them for the 2012 Cup and 2013 League.
The Spaniards have been training with Stallion in Iloilo. While they don't mind the heat, they admit that they have needed to adjust to the relentless humidity.
In a recent tune-up match with Central Philippine University, Stallion won 1-0.
Joaco and Rufo say they are impressed with defender Pi Yong Jae, midfielder Antonio "Bulldog" Albor Jr, and Doctora. In general they say the Korean players have "mucha disciplina" and that the Pinoys "tienen corazon, le gustan pelear." (have a lot of heart and a fighting spirit.)
They also believe that De Jong plays at a higher level than most of the other Stallions.
De Jong has played professionally in the Netherlands and Indonesia. He was supposed to join a Scottish lower level club but that move fell through. De Jong will likely play in a holding, or defensive midfield role.
With the Azkals since 2009, the Filipino-Dutchman is known for his physical style of play.
Joaco says that their contract with Penson Stallion is one year, but if they like the club and the feeling is reciprocated, then they may continue for another year.
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Stallion also has a brother team now, Sta. Lucia. The Realtors will share the same coaching staff as Stallion but have different ownership.
According to Nierras, the real estate developer wants to build Football fields in its many Golf course developments around the Metro Manila area to help spur the growth of the sport.
Sta. Lucia will feature many of the reserve Stallions on its roster like Matthew Nierras, Nathan Alquiroz, and Enzo Pinga. Barotacnons Tommy Escoltero, Jimmy Vergara will contribute as will African defender Abdoulaye Toumbia.
I was told that the club will be captained by Francis "Ansing" Gustilo, the highly gifted Stallion midfielder who struggled last season with injuries and saw limited playing time.
According to Stallion officials Gustilo will wear the armband for the Realtors in the UFL Cup, then will rejoin the Stallion for the UFL League next year.
However, Gustilo is not on the team photo album on their Facebook page so his participation has yet to be confirmed.
Matinee idol Derek Ramsay is on the squad as well as Brazilian model Fabio Ide. The club's Facebook page also reports that Philippine Volcano Andrew Wolff may sign.
The head coach of Sta. Lucia will be Selu Lozano, the ex-Kaya midfielder/defender player who played for Stallion last season.
Sta. Lucia faces Union Internacional Manila on Saturday in the preliminary round of the 2012 UFL Cup. Union, being a Division 2 team, enjoys a twice-to-beat advantage. If the Realtors win twice, they join the main draw for the Cup which will be held on September 25.
The club will join the UFL Division Two in next year's league.
Should Sta. Lucia gain promotion to the top tier of the UFL, the coaching staffs will become wholly separate.
Like Stallion, the Realtors will also be bolstered by Korean players from Central Philippine University in Iloilo.
The Passionate Fan thanks Pee Wee Ruiz and Vince Arriola for their help with this article. You can follow Bob on Twitter in @bhobg333.