Kaya FC, Tampines Rovers settle score in a goalless draw

Hosts Kaya FC-Iloilo and Tampines Rovers failed to find the back of the net as both squads ended their clash goalless last February 26 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Filipino side started much better with some half-chances early on while Tampines Rovers were still adjusting to the ebb and flow of the game.

As the clock approached the tenth minute, the Stags were able to assert themselves more as they started to conjure some attacking plays.

A minute before the first quarter of an hour, left midfielder Jordan Webb was able to break free of his marker but his attempt while at speed, at a tight angle can only fly over the bar.

Immediately the next minute, Kaya mounted a momentary siege of Tampines’ box but opportunities fleetingly came and went without getting the breakthrough.

In the 22nd minute a golden opportunity came for the Stags as the ball fell kindly on the path of Irwan Shah Arismail’s foot to unleash from close range but Kaya keeper Mike Casas was equal to it with a reflex save.

A few nervous moments arrived against Kaya FC as the Singaporeans peppered the hosts with some promising plays but the Filipino side were able to hold their fort and keep the stalemate.

In the 28th minute Jayson Panhay could have scored the opening goal for Kaya from a direct freekick but his well-curled effort flew agonizingly wide of the near post.

The game then proceeded with both teams trading possessions but neither was able to get a good look to score the icebreaker.

At the 42nd minute, Tampines had another half-decent chance with forward Boris Kopitovic unleashing a pile-driver in stride and at an angle, but his effort fizzed just over the bar.

Kopitovic’s attempt would be the last decent effort at goal as halftime arrived with the match goalless and finely in the balance.

Early in the second half, Tampines Rovers almost got ahead with Madhu Mohana’s strike inside the box deflected by a Kaya defender but Casas, once again, came up with a reflex save to deny the chance and maintain parity.

In the subsequent minutes after the hour mark, Kaya were able to control the match for the most part as they controlled the possession, but were not able to convert.

A late golden chance came for the Singaporean visitors with Webb releasing Kopitovic who duly produced a goal-bound effort but once again, Casas was the savior who kept the parity.

Tampines Rovers suddenly came alive in the final minutes as they knocked on Kaya’s door on several occasions. Meanwhile, Kaya had their few moments in injury time, but it wasn’t meant to be as the tie ended in a goalless draw.

Kaya FC-Iloilo will next visit Indonesian side PSM Makassar on March 10.

Photo credit: Kaya FC-Iloilo

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Ceres-Negros, Than Quang Ninh share spoils in four-goal draw

A heated encounter between Philippine champions Ceres-Negros FC and Vietnamese side Than Quang Ninh FC ended in a battling 2-2 draw in the AFC Cup 2020 Group G match held in Rizal Stadium last February 25.

In the early proceedings, the match exhibited a stop-start pace as both sides tried to weigh each other, exhibiting physicality, with some fouls committed on both ends.

But at the seventh minute, the hosts showed signs with regards to their capabilities on the attack, particularly on the wing play at the right flank with OJ Porteria and Robert Lopez Mendy almost connecting.

A good run of spell in possession followed for Ceres-Negros as they were able to dictate the proceedings in the moments that followed.

At the 14th minute, Than Quang Ninh had a decent chance though to score the breakthrough off a corner kick, but the headed attempt just flew wide of the near post as it remained a stalemate after the first quarter of an hour.

Despite the threat, the busmen were able to regain their bearings as they dictated once again the match with a promising chance arriving in the 24th minute as Stephan Schrock produced a teasing low pass across the opposition’s goalmouth only for the ball to marginally avoid the lurking forwards, Bienvenido Maranon and Lopez Mendy.

However that chance proved to be something that they would immediately rue as the Vietnamese side found themselves in front in the 26th minute after capitalizing on a defensive error with forward Jermie Lynch guiding the ball with such precision to find the back of the net.

Ceres immediately tried to respond with two consecutive chances from headers, but the equalizer proved elusive with half an hour gone.

Six minutes later, Manuel Ott tried a speculative effort, but his attempt to pull off something spectacular came to naught as the shot missed the target.

However a late first-half drama ensued. As the hosts desperately tried to claw their way and come up with an equalizing goal, Bienvenido Maranon was fouled inside the box promoting Malaysian referee Mohd Amirul Rizwan to point to the spot.

The aggrieved Maranon, duly took the penalty with such audacity, converting a chipped effort to put the tie well in the balance, as both sides head into the break sharing a goal each.

After the restart, both sides went off the blocks by employing high pressure on both ends, trying to catch the opposition on the counter.

Nine minutes into the second half, after a well-worked passing play, Bienve Maranon found himself in a position to unleash and put Ceres ahead, but his lobbed effort went over the bar.

A similar situation faced Robert Lopez Mendy a few moments after but also his attempt went sky high.

In the 61st minute, after an excellent play initiated by Porteria that found Maranon, the ball eventually found Manuel Ott without opposition but his shot hit the bar.

That miss will not be much of a concern for the busmen in the next minute though, as Porteria eventually gave his side the lead, firing low from an angle that beat Than Quang Ninh keeper, Huyn Tuan Linh to send the stadium into raptures.

With the onus now on the visiting side to come up with a leveller, the hero miners eventually got what they were searching for in the 70th minute after a mix-up inside Ceres-Negros’ box gave midfielder Nguyen Hai Huy enough window for an opportunistic strike that caught Ceres keeper Roland Muller stranded and hushing the Rizal Memorial crowd into stunned silence.

Six minutes later another and the Vietnamese side produced another scare for the Philippine champions as another shot from range unleashed just scraped outside Muller’s left post, escaping what could definitely be a complicated deficit.

As both clubs searched for the wining goal, eventually the tie ended in a draw as both sides split points in Group G.

Ceres-Negros will next face Indonesian champions Bali United on March 11 in Rizal Stadium in what could be considered as the busmen’s biggest test yet in the early phase of this year’s continental tournament.

Photo credit: Ceres-Negros FC

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AFC Cup 2020 Boot Spotting: Ceres and Kaya goal scorers in Group Stage Rd 1

With the first round of AFC Cup 2020 group stage action in the books, and Filipino clubs Ceres-Negros FC and Kaya FC-Iloilo beginning their respective campaigns on the right track, here the goal scorers and the boots they wear.

Bienvenido Marañon (FW, Ceres-Negros FC: 2 GOALS)

Ceres-Negros’ prolific Spanish forward, Bienve Marañon, scored a brace in the opener against Cambodian champions Svay Rieng FC, putting him jointly on top of the goal-scoring chart.

If this form can be maintained, the AFC Cup 2019 top scorer is poised for another productive season in the continental stage!

Photo credit: Ceres-Negros FC

Bienvenido Marañon’s boots: Nike Tiempo 8 Legend Elite

Takashi Odawara (MF/DF, Ceres-Negros FC: 1 GOAL)

A wise mid-season acquisition by the busmen last season, Japanese versatile defensive midfielder Takashi Odawara possesses a potent striking ability despite his mainly defensive duties as demonstrated by his goal against Svay Rieng near the edge of the box.

Although a regular haul is not expected from Odawara, it won’t come as a surprise if he could be an occasional option in attack and convert a few in crucial situations.

Photo credit: Ceres-Negros FC

Takashi Odawara’s boots: adidas X 18.1

Joshua Grommen (DF, Ceres-Negros FC: 1 GOAL)

After a two-year stint overseas, Josh Grommen made a homecoming to Ceres-Negros for the 2020 season. And in just his third appearance for the club this year (his second as a starter), Grommen opened his account in the AFC Cup against Svay Rieng.

Although replays show that the 23-year old enforcer may have used his hand in converting the chance fed by team captain Stephan Schröck, the goal stood eventually generating a momentary buzz in the footballing world as another “Hand of God” has been scored.

Josh Grommen’s boots: adidas Copa Gloro 19

Jovin Bedic (FW, Kaya FC-Iloilo: 1 GOAL)

Kaya FC-Iloilo skipper Jovin Bedic was clutch, converting what eventually has been a pivotal second half penalty kick for his club in a tough AFC Cup away opener against Burmese champions Shan United.

With the game finely on the balance, a momentary lapse on the part of the hosts tipped the scales in favor of the Filipino side when substitute Arnel Amita was fouled inside the box. Jovin Bedic stepped up to the occasion as he kept himself cool, calm and collected to convert from the spot without a hint of a doubt that served as the pivotal icebreaker.

Photo credit: AFC Cup

Jovin Bedic’s boots: Nike Mercurial Vapor 13 Elite

Eric Giganto (FW/MF, Kaya FC-Iloilo: 1 GOAL)

One of Kaya FC’s ever-dependable players the past few seasons, Eric Giganto once again demonstrated his importance to the team when he scored a late goal off a feed from Arnel Amita to put his club two-goals up against Shan United and erase all doubts in the tie.

Giganto’s knack for scoring late goals, particularly as a substitute, makes him virtually the club’s super-sub, and his jugular against Shan United further strengthened such case.

Photo credit: Kaya FC-Iloilo

Eric Giganto’s boots: Mizuno Morelia Neo

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LaLiga, clubs Valencia CF, RCD Mallorca & Real Valladolid in Manila for SPIA Conference

Via LaLiga

Representatives from LaLiga and its clubs, Valencia CF, RCD Mallorca and Real Valladolid CF are going to be in Manila this week to take part in the SPIA Asia international conference, which will be held on December 2 and 3 at the Grand Hyatt in Bonifacio Global City.

This year’s event is the fifth edition of the sports industry congress that will see 600 delegates and 60 international speakers come together to share knowledge and experiences about the latest trends in sports marketing, business strategy and international development.

The football industry will take centre stage, with LaLiga and its clubs once again to be showcased as role models thanks to their successful growth and internationalization strategies.

Maheta Molango, RCD Mallorca CEO; David Espinar, head of the president’s cabinet at Real Valladolid; and Josep Borrell, Valencia CF‘s commercial strategy coordinator, will offer those in attendance an insight into the various internationalization strategies undertaken by their clubs, their links with and future plans for the Asian continent, as well as their relationships with their global fans and partners.

A number of LaLiga outfits have interests and ties with Asia through the presence of players from the continent such as, playmaker Takefusa Kubo of Japan, who’s currently on loan at Mallorca and Valencia’s South Korean forward Kang-in Lee. Meanwhile, Real Valladolid were one of the first clubs to establish such a link after they signed Japanese striker Shoji Jo back in 2000.

The institution will also be represented during the talks at the event, with Ivan Codina, LaLiga‘s managing director for South-East Asia, Japan, Korea and Australia; and Almudena Gomez, LaLiga delegate in the Philippines, set to deliver presentations. The pair are part of LaLiga’s comprehensive network of staff based across the globe. The organisation will also take part in a panel discussion which will focus on trends in the development of the football industry across the Asian leagues and how leagues contribute to the progress of the game at a local level, as well as LaLiga’s strategy and projects in the region. 

The SPIA Asia 2019, organized by MMC Sportz and supported by Tourism Promotions Board Philippines will also be graced by a special guest in the shape of Real Valladolid President, Ronaldo “Il Fenomeno” Nazario De Lima, who will take to the stage on 3 December during the SPIA Asia “Straight Talk” before being awarded the SPIA Asia “Sport & Beyond” award.

Meanwhile, the summit will conclude with the annual SPIA Asia Awards Gala, which recognizes and celebrates excellence of the Asian sports industry. 450 submission from 47 eligible countries have been received to recognize the top achievers in 25 award categories including of the “Best Asian Sportsman & Sports Woman of the Year” and the “Best Asian Sports Team”. LaLiga has been shortlisted in Asia Top 10 in the accolade for the “Best Influencer Marketing Campaign of the Year”.

This year sees SPIA Asia 2019 will take place from December 2-3, 2019 at the Grand Hyatt Manila as part of the official activities of the 30th South East Asian Games.

In terms of LaLiga’s presence in the continent, the institution currently boasts three offices throughout in Asia (Singapore, China and India), whilst a team of 12 delegates are based across the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Australia, amongst other territories. In addition to having secured local sponsors and offering tailored social media accounts in several Asian countries, LaLiga has also signed various agreements with a number of local leagues and federations.

azkals-pfl-2019-deserving-callups

3 PFL players who deserve Azkals call-ups this 2019

The Philippine Azkals have three more fixtures for the remainder of 2019 with the World Cup qualifier match against China happening in a fortnight, and with the Philippines Football League (PFL) 2019 season in its end-phase, a few  local players emerged as standouts that could merit a consideration to be in Azkals Head Coach Goran Milojevic’s near future squad.

In the Azkals that recently competed against Syria and Guam for the qualifiers, only OJ Porteria, Mike Ott and Sean Kane (all of Ceres-Negros) represented the domestic pro league. Meanwhile, homegrown PFL player Jovin Bedic of Kaya who probably may have also featured in the squad, suffered an injury which made him unavailable that time.

However, with the domestic season already poised for its conclusion and the performances of players for their respective clubs already becoming clear in terms of how they fared, here is a list of three proven in-form local PFL players who deserve to have at least a shot in being part of the national team before 2019 ends (in no particular order).

Nathan Alquiros (Stallion Laguna, Midfielder)

Nathan Alquiros (Stallion Laguna, 6) battling for the ball against Mike Ott (Ceres-Negros). Source: Philippines Football League

One of Stallion Laguna’s main offensive orchestrators from the middle of the park has been an engine for his squad this PFL 2019 season which is currently at solo third in the standings.

Being the one who usually pull the strings for Coach Ernest Nierras’ Biñan-based squad either in the center or right midfield, with an occasional license to advance and strike forward, the product of De La Salle University’s football program has been a model of industry for his club.

Nathan Alquiros’ vision, ball-control and ability to read the play and unleash a shot in promising situations make him one of the standout creative midfielders in the league, not to mention his willingness to put in the hard work on the defensive end – something that the Azkals coaching staff might need to have a second look to further add a dash of uncompromising industry to the midfield.

Fitch Arboleda (Stallion Laguna, Winger/Forward/Midfielder)

Fitch Arboleda (Stallion Laguna, 27) with the ball as Boris Moudang (Air Force, 37) chases.
Source: Philippines Football League

Definitely one of the most consistent performers for Stallion Laguna this season, Fitch Arboleda has been on a tear for his club either as a scorer or a creator.

The pacy winger has been one of the main focal points of Stallion’s attack and his current output of nine goals, which is tied at fourth, is a testament of how Fitch has become an indispensable part of the club for all these three years in the PFL, not to mention his proven ability to also provide an assist to a much better-positioned strike partner.

However, the Azkals’ wealth in the winger and forward roles may prove a tough challenge for the former University of the East standout in making the squad. But if the Azkals are somehow presented a void on the flanks, Fitch Arboleda definitely is an option that should not be ignored.

Jim Ashley Flores (Mendiola FC 1991, Forward/Striker)

Jim Ashley Flores (Mendiola, 7) in an aerial battle against Chyma Uzoka (Global, 20)
Source: Philippines Football League

Arguably the most deserving of a call-up at the moment, Ashley Flores has been one of the few, yet most significant, positives for an otherwise tough debut season for FC Mendiola 1991 in the PFL.

The former San Beda University product’s current total of nine goals makes him tied in the goal-scorers’ standings at fourth, but what makes his achievement all the more notable is he was able to score against all other opposing PFL clubs, including powerhouses Ceres-Negros and Kaya FC.

A proven scorer deployed either as a main or support striker, whether it’s from a spectacular individual effort or a bundled goal produced from pure graft, Ashley Flores’ qualities and current form definitely merit a chance for an inclusion to the Azkals in at last one of its future qualifier matches.

Honorable Mentions

  • Alen Angeles (Mendiola FC 1991, Forward/Winger)
  • Jesus Melliza (Stallion Laguna, Forward/Midfielder)
  • Paolo Bugas (Green Archers United, Midfielder)
  • Marwin Angeles (Kaya FC Iloilo, Midfielder)
  • Joshua Dutosme (Ceres-Negros, Defender/Wingback)

YOUR OPINION COUNTS TOO!

Do you agree in this list? Which PFL player at the moment do you think deserves a call-up to the national team? Post them on the comments section below or on our social media channels on Facebook.

football-pitch

The crucial campaign ahead for PH 2019 SEAG Men’s Football Team

The 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) will be hosted by the Philippines in the latter part of 2019 with men’s football as the biggest team sports that almost all participating nations are going to vie for with much fervor.

With limitations of teams only allowed to be comprised Under-22 players (with the exception of two overaged players) and the competition not falling within the FIFA international break, most senior Azkals (even if their ages falls well within SEAG eligibility) won’t be able to participate in this tournament due to club commitments. Despite these constraints, the Philippine SEAG football team, under the reins of Azkals manager Dan Palami, are preparing to assemble its strongest squad yet as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Such an undertaking and campaign could prove seminal, if successful, as a template for organizing junior national teams for future tournaments.

Beginning mid-August, the Azkals management already held several days of open tryouts which were participated by several top junior prospects and hopefuls, both based locally and abroad.

And during the past September FIFA international break, right when the senior Azkals squad is in the middle of its World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualification campaigns, the initial shortlist of players for the 2019 SEAG were training in Manila.

Despite the early preparations, the task at hand is a monumental one, not only due to the fact that Azkals Management team has been tapped to be involved, but because the junior squad needs to turn its recent fortunes around as well for the better – something which is easier said than done.

THE HARD TRUTH

At the moment, in contrast to the leaps and bounds that the Azkals have achieved in terms of its relative profile in international football, the Philippine junior squads particularly the U-22 and U-23 still have a lot to do in order to close the gap to its other Southeast Asian counterparts.

Recent results by our youth squads have not been so encouraging, as the federation also recently took steps to improve talent identification and development at this level.

However, with the current system of youth football here in the country where the highest level still lies in the collegiate varsity leagues, it is still a far cry to the Philippines’ neighboring footballing nations where the best talents are honed within club system through academies and youth squads.

As the SEAG kicks off, surely traditional powerhouses and contenders will field young players coming from of either academy or club reserves from locally renowned clubs or even first team sensations (not to mention the additional two overage players who are likely to be veteran professionals).

These athletes that the Filipino U-22 SEAG squad will go up against already seasoned footballers, despite their young age, who are experiencing frequent, season-long and grinding competitive football at a high level making it a daunting proposition for the Philippine squad.

Hence, despite the promise and optimism that goes with a tried and tested Azkals management team being directly involved in the preparation of the SEAG men’s football team, expectations still should be tempered with healthy dose of realism.

REALISTIC TARGETS

Given that the U-22 Philippine SEAG squad will be made up mostly of varsity players from various colleges and universities reinforced with some standout youths from the Philippines Football League and two overage players, demanding for a medal finish will be too premature.

With the very high-level of competition and the high-stakes involved when given the profile of the sport, particularly for footballing nations, surviving the group and reaching the semifinals (matching the 1991 edition in Manila) for the Filipinos in Men’s Football will already be considered a resounding success and anything higher than would be a miraculous bonus.

A better expectation from the Philippine Men’s Football Team this 2019 SEAG for sports fans is to avoid lopsided losses. In this stage, with the preparation that is being done and the fact that the biennial tournament will be hosted in the Philippines, national pride is at stake for all sporting events – and that includes football. So a good account of our representatives in terms of competency level should be paramount. The least the Filipinos could expect is for the team to give a good fight.

Grinding out draws against contenders, winning against non-regional powerhouses should be the results to expect from the squad. If losses are inevitable they should not be without a fight. Such factors should be the ones considered as the more rational of expectations.

NEXT STEPS

Basing on what would be the outcome of the Philippines’ campaign in men’s football this 2019 SEAG, if reaching the semifinals is achieved, then it can be considered that the Azkals management’s direct involvement in the junior squad has obvious positive effects and should continue on.

If the campaign turns out to be otherwise, and ends up well below par of expectations, then it proves that there are an even bigger hurdles to conquer internally and they involve improving what is further down the footballing strata: the one that bridges the grassroots and the competitive youth levels of the sport.

2019 SEAG is definitely going to be big for Philippine Football as this could serve as either a turning point, an indicator, or an eye-opener for our country’s state in the sport at the developmental level.

LaLiga kicks off biggest season yet in its 90th year

Spain’s top-flight football club competition, LaLiga, has begun to turn the wheels for 2019/2020 season which is being considered to be its grandest yet in celebration of its 90-years of existence as one of the best domestic leagues in the footballing world.

In a kick-off event for the Philippine media held last September 2, 2019 in Makati, the league represented by Almudena Gomez Benito (Global Network Delegate for the Philippines) and Ivan Codina (Managing Director for Southeast Asia – Australia, Japan and South Korea), LaLiga presented what football fans are about to expect in its biggest season yet in terms of technical scope.

IT’S IN THE DETAILS

Already providing one of the most cutting-edge fan experiences in professional club football (who can forget those cool 360 degree replays?), LaLiga continues to raise the bar for the recently started 2019/2020 season as it further implements improvements in broadcasting technology from the number of cameras (including super slow-motion viewing angles) up to the auditory experience with the introduction of Dolby Atmos and 4K video quality broadcast in select matches.

The league, considered by many as arguably the strongest in relation to historical performances of its representatives in international club competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and FIFA Club World Cup, featuring the most successful clubs ever to grace the sport with the likes of Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, and Sevilla FC to name a few is set to give a treat this season to football followers as it starts to usher in its most ambitious year yet in terms of viewer experience.

A NEW “HEART OF LALIGA”

A new element that gets added in the 2019/2020 season is the new ball that fans will see in matches in a new deal Puma Football as the new match ball supplier.

The development is significant as LaLiga has been supplied by a different brand for the past several years, making the switch both exciting and bold as it provides a new flavor on the pitch ushering something fresh to loyal fans through the years.

AN EXCITING SEASON UNFOLDING

Despite the new season just being in its third match day, based on what transpired in all of the fixtures involved, the race to the top could turn out to be an interesting one.

Bannered by its young gem and new signing Joao Felix, head coach Diego Simeone and the rest of Atletico de Madrid find themselves in first place of the standings followed by a seemingly rejuvenated Athletic Bilbao and an always threatening Sevilla FC.

With Real Madrid at fifth and Barcelona in an unfamiliar eighth place due to upsets and unexpected draws, the chase is on for the big clubs as they try to regain their respective footings with the possibility of more surprise results in store.

2019-20 season is definitely poised to be an interesting marathon as who will find themselves at the summit come the its conclusion.

ALPHONSE AREOLA RETURNS TO LALIGA

France’s emerging star goalkeeper, who is of Filipino origin from both parents, just joined Real Madrid for a season-long loan from Paris Saint-Germain.

With his Filipino heritage, such a move back to Spain by the former Villarreal shot-stopper in the club with probably the biggest profile and history, could further boost LaLiga in the eyes of Filipino sports fans.

The optimism in this loan-move, as one of the best footballing talents in the world who traces his roots to the Philippines, could definitely add interest to the Southeast Asian nation.

SEGUNDA DIVISION IN YOUTUBE

Meanwhile, Spain’s second-tier, the Segunda Division, formally named as LaLiga SmartBank, will be available for live streaming in Youtube in selected countries.

What is good about this move and partnership by the league with Youtube is the Philippines is one of the countries that have free access to these matches and content.

Featuring storied clubs such as Deportivo La Coruna, Racing Santander, Malaga, and Real Zaragoza, along with other clubs that make up a productive conveyor belt of the biggest talents in football access to this quality league is a boon for Filipino football fans who have teams to root for in the second division.

BEST SEASON EVER?

Considering the very promising 2019/2020 LaLiga Santander season as the best ever, is quite premature at this moment from a sporting level, but with the improvements in terms of the technical aspects in presentation, and the accessibility of LaLiga SmartBank for Filipino football fans – not to mention Alphonse Areola’s on-boarding with Real Madrid, it can be said that this young season is already the best in these criteria.

It’s definitely a great way to celebrate 90-years of amazing football, which all began back in 1929.

Now it’s time to calendar those crucial matchdays and enjoy the as Spain’s best clubs fight for the title!

Key LaLiga matches for the remainder of 2019

  • September 9 – Madrid Derby (Atletico de Madrid vs Real Madrid)
  • October 20 – South Madrid Derby (Getafe CF vs CD Leganes)
  • October 27 – El Clasico (Barcelona vs Real Madrid)
  • November 10 – Seville Derby (Real Betis vs Sevilla FC)
  • December 8 – Valencia Derby (Levante UD vs Valencia CF)

LaLiga Santander is available in the Philippines through BeIn Sports App or via BeIn channels in cable or satellite TV services that include the channel/s via subscription. LaLiga SmartBank matches can be viewed live via Youtube’s streaming services.

Photo credit: LaLiga Facebook Page