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Revamped Copa highlights 2023 PFL action

Club football in the Philippines will have a recalibration this year.

The Philippines Football League, sponsored by Qatar Airways, announced that it will introduce changes to the Copa Paulino Alcantara, which shall take place sometime this June until September.

From seven teams last year, the league is hoping to expand the participants to 16 squads to fulfill 60 matches. With that in mind, the Philippine Football Federation will invite qualified teams before the tournament proper and will facilitate workshops to ensure smooth operations.

“The expansion of the upcoming Copa Paulino Alcantara is a much-needed shot in the arm to elevate the domestic club football scene. More teams mean more matches and football experience,” said PFL Commissioner Mikhail Torre.

“The expanded Cup shall serve as a benchmark on the quality of football amongst professional and amateur clubs and we hope to further grow the football pyramid in the near future.”

The seven teams of the PFL – Kaya-Iloilo, United City, Azkals Development Team (ADT), Stallion Laguna, Mendiola 1991, Dynamic Herb Cebu, and Maharlika Manila – are expected to join while the inclusion of amateur teams in the competition is expected to be welcomed by collegiate squads as well as emerging sides which are raring to experience top-flight football.

Beforehand, though, the league seeks to build on the momentum it gained last year in the second half of the league competition, which will be played next month until 11 June 2023 for a total of 43 games. A total of 39 matches were played last year, while the two canceled ones are to be deliberated upon by the organizers.

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Kaya-Iloilo, which is leading the table with 30 points behind 10 wins and two losses, looks to win a first PFL crown in its history. Hoping to prevent that, though, are defending champions United City in 2nd place with 24 points and Dynamic Herb Cebu in 3rd place with 21 points.

Stallion Laguna and the ADT have 15 points each, while Mendiola 1991 has six points and Maharlika has one point.

The league was able to hold some matches outside of Metro Manila for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Those fixtures saw Kaya-Iloilo defeating United City 2-1 at the Iloilo Sports Complex while Dynamic Herb Cebu hosted Kaya-Iloilo and United City in Talisay, Cebu, and United City went up against the ADT and Stallion Laguna at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium.

“The Philippines Football League has already made its return to the domestic football scene last year and we are delighted to have witnessed league matches already played in front of capacity crowds in Iloilo and in Cebu,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta.

“We hope that this trend reinvigorates fan support when the second half of league action kicks off next month.”

The opening day for the second half of the season will take place on February 18.

It will be opened by Mendiola 1991 vs United City, and Maharlika Manila taking on Stallion Laguna. Kickoff times will be announced soon.

League leader Kaya-Iloilo will then host Dynamic Herb Cebu the day after at the Iloilo Sports Complex.

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“We have a tight season ahead of us in the second half of the league season,” added PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes.

“We have seen clubs host their league matches in their respective nominated home venues, and this will result in increased visibility and fan support this season.”

Written By

Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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