All Systems Go for the First Copa Paulino Alcantara

Rare goalkeeper assist in Wellington’s defeat of Western Utd

With the conclusion of the Philippines Football League’s second season, PFL clubs are in perfect attendance at the press conference for the presser of the inaugural Copa Paulino Alcantara which will commence on the first of September and promises to be an action-packed tournament. 

Being the first club cup competition in the Philippines under the supervision of Liga Futbol Inc. (LFI), the tournament will begin with two groups battling out in a double-round robin wherein the top two teams from each group will progress to the next stage of the competition. Group A will be composed of the two-time PFL champions Ceres-Negros, Davao Aguilas, and Stallion Laguna. Group B on the other hand sees this league season’s second placers Kaya-Iloilo, JPV Marikina and Global-Cebu.

With Ceres-Negros already securing the league title, a domestic double would just be fitting enough as an ending for a tremendous season which would also guarantee an AFC Cup slot for Kaya-Iloilo. This Copa Paulino Alcantara will not be an easy tournament though as all the other clubs are desperate to keep the league’s top two finishers away from winning the inaugural competition.

“It’s a new tournament. Whatever the result of the league, it doesn’t matter anymore,” said Coach Noel Marcaida of Kaya FC when asked about their advantage over their opponents in their group after they finished above them in the recently concluded league showdown.

“The approach of Kaya going to the cup is (there should be) no complacency. We have to play to the best of our capacity,” added the Iloilo-based squad’s head coach.

Despite winning the league in an almost flawless fashion, Ceres-Negros don’t want to be complacent as well heading into the cup competition.

“We’re going to approach the cup as professional as possible and try to win it,” Curt Dizon said regarding The Busmen’s approach to the new challenge that could make them achieve a rare and groundbreaking milestone if they happen to win it.

Not only does the Copa Paulino Alcantara provide a slot into the AFC Cup, it is also an avenue for everyone below Ceres-Negros to redeem themselves after missing out on the league title. For instance, Davao Aguilas have been in a roller-coaster ride this season and would love to have this silverware to show that they’re still a team to be reckoned with.

“We’re very confident in our team and that we can compete against any team in the country. It’s all about getting consistency,” Coach Leigh Manson of the Aguilas when asked about their chances for the cup.

Davao’s team captain Phil Younghusband followed up by saying, “It’s all about progression. As long as we are progressing then we can be happy.”

Looking to pull off any surprises in the Copa Paulino Alcantara, Stallion Laguna want a shot at the title as well with coach Ernie Nierras saying, “We’re excited about this group. It gives us another chance to see if we can beat Ceres as we’ve lost five games in the league (against them), so we have to do something for the cup.”

Although they are still in the rebuilding stage with the infusion of former Azkals member Anton Del Rosario and new head coach Dragutin Stevic-Rankovic, Global-Cebu still sees a glimmer of hope for this competition as they’ve had a couple of acceptable results toward the end of the league. “If you look in the past few games, obviously we are underdogs. I just arrived two weeks ago and I see huge improvements in my squad,” Coach Rankovic said regarding his thoughts on their chances.

Lastly, JPV Marikina finished the league second to the last but the return of Takumi Uesato from Ceres promises more firepower for Dan Padernal’s wards in the upcoming competition.

Yung pagbalik ni Taku (Uesato) sa amin, siguro magbibigay na ng magandang labas sa taas tapos bawas-bawasan namin yung mali namin sa likod,“(Taku’s return to us might give us a better fight upfront and we should minimise our errors at the back) Padernal said on their plans to make a good result out of their matches in the cup.

The Copa Paulino Alcantara begins on September 1 with Kaya FC Iloilo going up against Global Cebu FC at 4PM followed by Ceres-Negros FC against Davao Aguilas FC at 7PM. Both matches will be held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

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