THERE’S little fanfare, as expected, but the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara, the inaugural cup competition of the Philippines Football League, will kick off tomorrow.
The six participating clubs from the PFL are divided into two groups. Following the draw last Aug. 26, 2018 PFL champions Ceres-Negros joins Stallion Laguna and Davao Aguilas in Group A, while Kaya-Iloilo, JPV Marikina and Global Cebu form Group B.
Clubs participitating in the Copa Paulino Alcantara not only have a chance to win the inaugural cup, the champions earn a slot in the 2019 AFC Cup Group Stage. The Philippines gets two slots for the AFC Group Stage, with one slot going to Ceres-Negros as 2018 PFL winners.
Seeing action in the first two matches this Sunday are Kaya-Iloilo against Global Cebu at 4 p.m. and followed by Ceres against Davao Aguilas at 8 p.m., both at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. Stallion Laguna and JPV Marikina will have to wait for two weeks to see action, with Stallion clashing against the Aguilas in Biñan, Laguna, and JPV going up against Global in Carmona, Cavite, on Sept. 15.
The round robin format calls for home-and-away matches, but the schedules show that the teams will only be playing in the three venues.
Again, the venues don’t reflect the true home turfs of the clubs, but since the PFL is on survival mode when it comes to logistics, we’ll take what we can get. Besides, the most important thing right now is for the legacy cup that is the Copa Paulino Alcantara to succeed.
For those who wish to view the matches online, the games are expected to be streamed live via pfltv.com. But as of this writing when I checked, the website had yet to be updated.
The Cup, though, has many positives going its way. It provides continuity within the PFL, and the clubs regularly seeing action will keep the PFL in the public consciousness, no matter how peripheral.
I believe that it’s a matter of time before one of the top Philippine clubs will see yet another breakthrough particularly in the international arena, where the club football scene is gaining momentum at a crazy pace. And for the Philippines not to be left out, the PFL, through its league and cup competitions, must keep its presence. The crowds in most matches might not be there yet, but they will come in due time. The show must go on.
And let’s not forget that competitive matches are crucial in keeping the many national team players plying their trade in the PFL clubs in top form, since they’ll also be representing the country as the Azkals in two successive tournaments: the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and the 2019 AFC Cup.
As the six remaining PFL clubs participating in the cup renew rivalries old and new, the players get the opportunity of playing quality football. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to see a new name declared as champions apart from Ceres? If not, witness a hopefully re-invigorated
Global Cebu seek redemption in the cup?
No doubt the PFL is having a painful sophomore year, but launching the Copa Paulino Alcantara at such a difficult time is a step in the right direction as it reiterates the stakeholders’ committment to their cause of uplifting the sport in the country. The Copa after all is a cup of hope for Philippine football.