PFL to expand Copa Alcantara as part of 5-point growth plan

During the draw for the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara that was held in the PFF House of Football last October 20, the Philippines Football League touched on its immediate plans for the growth of the country’s top-tier professional league tournament.

PFL Commissioner Coco Torre himself was the one who gave a high-level discussion on what the league’s plans are in front of key representatives of the Copa Paulino Alcantara participants comprising of the following: sponsorship, partnership with industry leaders, league expansion, referee development, and income generation and brand building.

Sponsorship

Recent reports have been published that Qatar Airways are set for a sponsorship role beginning with the 2019 Copa Alcantara until the upcoming 2020 PFL season.

Although some of the specifics of the momentous partnership are still in the process of being ironed out during the time of the draw, the development could pave way for future sponsorships that are being worked on by the PFL management Liga Futbol, Inc. (LFI).

Partnerships with overseas leagues

As PFL management continues in its efforts on multiple fronts in growing the competition as a whole, it aims to forge partnerships with industry leaders in the region.

One key development in this is PFL working with J.League – one of the trail-blazers in Asia – when it comes to club education and other technical matters on and off the pitch with the possibility of future collaborative efforts with other league football entities as well.

“We sought help and guidance from J.League (on this particular aspect),” Commissioner Torre shared.

It is to note that J.League has recently been in the Philippines for a separate advocacy where the league reached out to their chosen community in Quezon City where they held a football clinic and donated kits to the children.

League Expansion

During the recently concluded 2019 season the league was comprised of seven competing clubs in a hectic campaign which required clubs facing each other four times.

Commissioner Torre looked at the possibility of expanding the league, although it will be dependent on the number of clubs competing and the licensing requirements for new ones.

Another more possible approach is expanding the pool in the Copa Alcantara. The league commissioner shared that PFL along with Ang Liga’s Coach Aris Caslib are exploring on connecting the two leagues beginning with awarding top-performing Ang Liga teams slots to compete in the cup.

As of this moment, the avenue for expanding the competitors in the Copa Alcantara could be the more feasible route given that the competition serves as the national cup directly under PFF’s leadership, so not only will it be open to PFL and Ang Liga, as it actually is a national competition that could be opened up for champions of other non-professional leagues.

Referee development

Another aspect that the league is looking at is the continued improvement in the officiating through referee development.

Quality of in-game officiating has been a key thrust of the entire footballing sphere worldwide, at all levels, with the advent of VAR at the highest level of competitions as the most obvious testament to this.

Although, Philippine football is still far from having the resources to introduce VAR, improving the overall level of refereeing through trainings is at a high priority for the PFL.

Income generation and brand building

One of the most crucial in any organized sport is its sustainability and income generation plays a crucial role.

Methods that are currently being looked into are ticketing system and merchandise through the building up of the PFL brand and, to an extent, the Copa Paulino Alcantara.

Though not much has been divulged yet on the details and methodology of the approach with regards to the brand development, another thing that was emphasized as part of implementing a ticket system is the infrastructure readiness.

For now out of the three venues used in the recently concluded 2019 PFL, only Binan Football Stadium has the readiness to implement paid in-venue viewership. Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa still has to be assessed due to its currently open-nature in terms of accessing the venue, while Rizal Memorial Stadium is still in the process of completing its renovation for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Infrastructure has been one of the main focus right now as part of developing football in Philippines especially when the topic has been put in the spotlight during the visit of FIFA President Gianni Infantino in Metro Manila a few days ago.

Photo credit: Philippines Football League

Former Kaya striker Robert Mendy joins Ceres-Negros

After a stint with UiTM FC in Malaysia Premier League, Robert Lopez Mendy joins Philippines Football League defending champions Ceres-Negros FC.

The signing was completed on July 19, according to Ceres-Negros Head Coach Risto Vidakovic.

The 32-year-old Senegalese forward had been a lethal finisher for his former Filipino club Kaya FC Iloilo, but after a contrasting tenure in front of goal in Malaysia, he gets another opportunity to regain his old scoring ways for Ceres-Negros under Coach Risto.

His 43 goals in 43 appearances for Kaya speak volumes in the Philippine pro football setting as he helped the club win the inaugural Copa Paulino Alcantara and secure an AFC Cup qualification slot, something that his new team would be looking forward from him.

Before that glorious tenure with Kaya, Mendy was with Green Archers United where he made a name as an effective attacking player in what was then known as the United Football League.

As for Ceres-Negros, the club’s reinforcement does not end in their swoop for Mendy as they looked into their young talents this time, promoting two Ceres Youth players Charles Ivan Barberan of Bukidnon and Tristan Kit Robles of Iloilo City to the senior squad for the rest of the domestic campaign.

Ceres Negros will see action in the PFL 2019 season tomorrow, Sunday (July 21), against Green Archers United which will be held in The PFF National Training Center in Carmona. Match will be streamed live via pfltv.ph.

Photo credit: Kaya FC Iloilo

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Thai club Chonburi confirms acquisition of Azkals forward Curt Dizon

Top Filipino football talents’ moves to Thai League 1 continue with Curt Dizon’s transfer to Chonburi FC from Ceres-Negros being the latest development.

The deal was completed and confirmed as of July 17 via official sources making Dizon the fifth player from the same Filipino club to make the jump to the Southeast Asian neighbor along with Kevin Ingreso, Alvaro Silva, and Martin Steuble.

With Chonburi, under manager Sasom Pobprasert, currently in mid-table at ninth place in the on-going League 1, the club will expect 25-year-old Dizon to provide the necessary impetus with the hopes of further improving their place in the table and avoid a possible relegation battle in what seems to be a tightly contested season.

Curt Dizon is a pacy forward-winger who operates on the left with Ceres and has the capability to either create chances for his teammates or score goals. His strengths lie mainly in his pace and dribbling ability – tools that could help him succeed in his new club.

Aside from a successful tenure with Ceres-Negros, where he helped the club win the 2018 domestic league, Curt also played for Philippine-based clubs Global FC and FC Meralco Manila.

Dizon also has been a regular mainstay in the Azkals squad amassing 16 competitive appearances for his country including the AFF Suzuki Cup and the historic 2019 AFC Asian Cup campaigns.

Dizon and Chonburi are scheduled to face up against Suphanburi which has fellow Azkals Alvaro Silva and Patrick Deyto on Saturday, July 20, at 9:00PM local time (10:00PM Philippine Standard Time).

Photo credit: Chonburi FC Facebook page

PFL sees century of goals breached as leadership for ‘top hitman’ takes shape

Ruthless and lopsided victories by Ceres Negros and Green Archers United this past weekend have racked up the total number goals scored in the Philippines Football League 2019 to 110 breaching the century-mark as we revisit who, at the moment, are the top scorers in the league.

With three matches completed recently, Ceres Negros scored a dozen of unanswered goals to beat hapless Air Force accompanied by a tightly contested 1-0 win by Kaya against Stallion in a simultaneous fixture that transpired last Saturday, July 13. The two matches were then followed by a 9-0 dismantling of Global FC by in-form Green Archers United the following day, Sunday.

The massive 22-goal haul produced during the course of the weekend has put the current PFL season’s goals tally to well beyond the 100-mark as we look at who are the league leaders when it comes to shaking the back of the net for their respective clubs. Of course, we will also tackle the top performing brands of boots so as to see if there are any surprise names that put their name on the Philippine pro-football map.

PFL TOP SCORERS

Tied at 5th Place: 3 Goals

  • Jovin Bedic (Kaya FC Iloilo)
  • Nathan Alquiros (Stallion Laguna)
  • Fitch Arboleda (Stallion Laguna)
  • Chima Uzoka (Stallion Laguna)
  • Jimuel Ariola (Green Archers Utd)
L-R: Arboleda, Bedic, Alquiros, Uzoka, Ariola

Tied at 4th Place: 4 Goals

  • Curt Dizon (Ceres Negros)
  • Marvin Angeles (Green Archers United)
  • Stephan Schröck (Ceres Negros)
L-R: Dizon, Schröck, Marvin Angeles

Tied at 3rd Place: 5 Goals

  • Mike Ott (Ceres Negros)
  • John Celiz (Green Archers United)
L-R: Mike Ott, John Celiz

2nd Place: 9 Goals

  • Jordan Mintah (Kaya FC Iloilo)

Marañon sits undisputed on the driver’s seat

On top of the standings is none other than Bienvenido Marañon.

Ceres-Negros’ lethal striker has already beaten the opposing defences 16 times making him the only one to get to double digits when it comes to scoring goals at this moment in the on-going season.

His telepathic understanding with talismanic midfielder Stephan Schröck where the Filipino international has been the provider for the Spaniard has been the biggest key producing seven of those goals from that tandem alone.

With the PFL 2019 still far from over, it can be expected that at this form, Marañon could score much more and may be well on his way to top the charts at the campaign’s conclusion.

TOP PERFORMING BOOTS

A total of seven football shoe brands have found the back of the net in the ongoing PFL 2019 season. Before we look into the top 3 most lethal footwear in the league here are the ones that made the list:

  • New Balance (1 goal)
  • Kipsta/Decathlon (1 goal) -> a welcome surprise!
  • Puma (2 goals)
  • Mizuno (4 goals)

TOP 2: ADIDAS Football

With 18 players who scored in the PFL wearing the three stripes on their feet, a total of 35 goals are attributed to the German brand with Jordan Mintah being at the forefront.

TOP 1: NIKE Football

Seemingly a favorite of most attacking players in the PFL with Ceres Negros midfield maestro Stephan Schröck as one of its leading disciples, 25 individuals found the back of the net while equipped with the swoosh brand for a whopping 59 goals all in all.

BIGGEST WINNER

Wait, where’s TOP 3?

Well, it’s been saved for last since the brand can be considered the biggest climber with respect to its relative profile compared to the other global brands and it’s none other than CONCAVE which has Bienvenido Marañon to thank for.

Ceres’ most lethal striker, despite being signed under the Australian brand, began the domestic campaign wearing a different pair of boots opting to limit the use of his Concave Halo’s for the AFC Cup campaign where the Spaniard turned out to be one of the best goalscorers.

Bienvenido Marañon and his Concave shoes

However, once The Busmen’s continental front has come to an end at the ASEAN Zone semifinals, Marañon began to wear Concaves in the PFL where he racked up eight goals in his Halo’s in just four matches to magically push the brand to third spot in the standings!

Now, the question is, with Marañon rocking a pair which does not have mainstream footprint in the Philippines (Concave Asia is based in Indonesia as per its Instagram account), can this influence the striker for a future move to a different country where the brand has a much more visible presence in the near future?

For now, it’s just purely speculation.

Photo credit: Philippines Football League

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PFL Team of the Week 3

In a matchweek that has seen fixtures laid out for quite a stretch, here is the third edition of 5th Minute of Added Time’s eleven standout players that make up the Team of the Week (TOTW) list.

MATCH RESULTS

June 15: Stallion 6-1 Mendiola; Kaya 1-0 Global
June 19: Global 3-1 Air Force, Mendiola 3-6 Kaya, Green Archers 0-0 Stallion
June 22: Global v Mendiola (abandoned)
June 23: Air Force 0-3 Green Archers

Formation: 3-5-2

Goalkeeper: Henri Bandeken Fong (Green Archers United)

The Cameroonian shot-stopper has been immense for Green Archers’ draw against Stallion Laguna last June 19 in a match that is considered as probably one of the toughest challenges they have in their campaign.

With several key saves, Green Archers were able to repel Stallion’s chances holding them scoreless as both teams shared the spoils in which the Archers would consider as a massive achievement, thanks to the efforts of their colossal sentinel that night.

Defender: Reynald Villareal (Stallion Laguna)

Stallion’s centerback has been a key figure in the club’s defense line during its two-game stretch for this edition of TOTW where both Mendiola and Green Archers were not able to find the back of the net.

Defender: Julian Clarino (Stallion Laguna)

The former UP Fighting Maroon has been a dependable force for the Binan-based club both in his defensive role and as a conduit in being one of the channels towards an offensive buildup from the left flank.

His efforts as one of the pieces in Stallion’s backline has been rewarded successfully helping the club get two clean sheets against Mendiola and, more importantly, against Green Archers United.

Defender: Reymart Cubon (Green Archers United)

Definitely not to be missed out as one of this week’s outstanding defenders, homegrown talent Reymart Cubon has been undeniably stellar at the back as Green Archers United amassed two clean-sheets against Stallion and Air Force to help propel the club to second place (as of this writing) in the league standings.

Midfielder/Winger: Fitch Arboleda (Stallion Laguna)

One of Stallion’s go to guy when it comes to the attack, Fitch Arboleda’s brace in a win against Mendiola FC and initiatives up front in a draw against Green Archers United cannot deny his quality for the Laguna-based outfit.

Midfielder: Eric Giganto (Kaya FC Iloilo)

A player who can deliver big time for the club when called upon, Eric Giganto showed once again why he is one of Kaya’s major threats this season with two stellar goals and an assist against Mendiola last June 19.

Now that is one heck of an all-around attacking effort.

Midfielder: Marvin Angeles (Green Archers United)

What can we say? Despite coming in as a substitute, Marvin Angeles showed his undeniable talent and quality when it mattered most by scoring two goals against Air Force.

His second one was a thing of beauty as he connected with Paolo Bugas’ delivery in spectacular fashion with an acrobatic volley as icing on the cake as Green Archers’ leaped their way to second place in the PFL standings.

Midfielder: Alfred Osei (Kaya FC Iloilo)

Whether being an enforcer or a scoring option, Alfred Osei, proves that he can operate as a box-to-box midfielder for Kaya FC.

His scoring capabilities has been witnessed once again as he registered his first goal for the domestic campaign against Global last June 15.

Midfielder: Paolo Bugas (Green Archers United)

Paolo Bugas is turning out to be one of the main midfield architects for his club this 2019 season with his creativity, vision and distribution.

His well-placed and well-weighted pass leading to Marvin Angeles’ highlight reel notched his second assist for the season.

Chima Uzoka (Stallion Laguna)

Chima Uzoka’s hat-trick against Mendiola has been a glimpse of what he can offer for the club.

And despite being held in a goalless draw against Green Archers in the following match, his previous exploits showed his potential for his new club.

Jordan Mintah (Kaya FC Iloilo)

With another hat-trick against Mendiola FC, Jordan Mintah puts his goals tally up to seven, propelling him to second place in the scorers table.

But what’s more important than being up there as one of the most potent strikers in the league is the fact that his efforts helped his club Kaya FC maintain its perfect start to the season and the early grip of the leadership in the race for the domestic league championship.

Photo credit: PFL

PFL: Kaya stays perfect, Global gets breakthrough, Archers and Stallion share spoils

The Philippines Football League concluded a busy Wednesday with Kaya FC Iloilo maintaining their perfect run to the season off a goal-fest and Global FC notching their first win of the campaign. Meanwhile Green Archers United held Stallion to a scoreless draw as both teams rounded up the matchday sharing the spoils.

Kaya FC show firepower over Mendiola in a nine-goal spectacle

The Iloilo representatives of the PFL proved once again that they are legitimate challengers for the throne this season after scoring six goals against Mendiola FC 1991’s three. Jordan Mintah scored a hat-trick while Eric Giganto got a brace with Shirmar Felongco also getting on the scoresheet with a first half conversion.

Despite finding the back of the net thrice with team captain Aaron Altiche, Ashley Flores and Alen Angeles scoring, Mendiola FC 1991 could only look into the positives on the match regarding their offense as the goals were not enough against the might of their opponents for the day.

Global FC fightback results to first win of the campaign

A spirited second half performance by Global FC over Air Force proved to be a much needed boost in the midst of their rebuild as they get their first three points of the season.

Late goals by Kennedy Uzoka, Marvin Bricenio and Matthew Custodio were enough to overturn an Alvin Obero own-goal in the first half.

Stallion held by Green Archers

In what was considered as the marquee matchup for the day, Green Archers United produced a monumental defensive effort, particularly from goalkeeper Henri Bandeken, as they were able to successfully hold their fort and repel the attacks of Stallion to a goalless draw, showing that they are the best performing debutants this early in the PFL season.

Stallion though might consider this result as a lost opportunity that could later haunt them in their aim to contend for an AFC tournament qualification with some squandered gilt-edged chances that could have killed the match in their favor.

Photo credit: Philippines Football League

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Transfer news: Azkals midfielder Kevin Ingreso joins Thai League giants Buriram United

Philippine Azkals midfielder Kevin Ingreso was not part of the list when Ceres-Negros officially released the squad list for the 2019 PFL season raising speculations that he is heading to an overseas club.

Initial developments in which the player has been seen training with the his supposed new club prior to the transfer window were finally confirmed when defending Thai League champions, Buriram United, released an official post of the now former Busman‘s transfer to their squad.

Buriram United are currently leading the table in the on-going Thai League season, but it is turning out to be a closely fought campaign with Port FC, Bangkok United and Samut Prakan City mounting serious challenges to unseat the Thunder Castles.

Kevin Ingreso’s acquisition would most likely serve as a reinforcement in the midfield area. Though he can operate well with a holding role, he is also effective on the offensive end with his creative qualities by helping the frontline find goalscoring opportunities.

A product of Hamburger SV’s youth system, Kevin played in Germany in the early part of his career before joining Ceres in 2015 and being a part of the club’s meteoric rise to prominence in professional football in the Philippines and it’s milestone-laden campaigns in the continental front, particularly in the AFC Cup.

On the international stage, Kevin Ingreso’s most significant highlight while playing for the Philippines is scoring the equalizer against Tajikistan at the final qualification match that technically booked the Southeast Asian nation to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup – the first time ever in its history.

Photo credit: The Azkals

Current top scoring boot brands in PFL 2019

A little over a month has passed since the third season of the Philippines Football League has commenced. With 43 goals scored in total, here are the top scoring football boots in the country’s top tier (as of June 17, 2019).

Puma, Kipsta: 1 goal each

Mendiola’s Franco Dela Torre scored a goal near the half-hour mark last June 2 against Green Archers United wearing a pair of Kipsta Agility’s.

Alvin Obero of Air Force etched his name in the goalscoring tally after converting against Mendiola near the hour mark last June 8 while armed with his Puma Future boots.

Mizuno: 3 goals

Green Archers United’s Val Jurao scored a brace last June 2 against Mendiola in Morelia Neos.

Meanwhile, defender Martin Steuble scored a spectacular 24th minute goal for Ceres-Negros during the club’s opener against Stallion while also wearing the Morelia Neos.

Adidas: 14 goals

Adidas came in second in the standings with 14 goals, led by Kaya FC Iloilo’s Jordan Mintah who was able to shake the back of the net four times making him the second highest scorer in the league at the moment with his Adidas Nemeziz Initiators.

Other goal-scorers for Adidas: Jayson Panhay (Kaya FC), Christian Zubiri (Green Archers), Mike Ott (Ceres-Negros), Jo Warren Bedia (Stallion), Nathan Alquiros (Stallion), James Kim (Green Archers), Papuh Corsame (Mendiola FC), Alfred Osei (Kaya FC)

Nike: 24 goals

Currently the choice of the league’s deadliest strikers and chance-takers, Nike boasts the most number of conversions with the ball crossing the line and into the back of the net a whopping 24 times.

Although leading by a very significant margin, Nike also has the distinction of scoring an own goal.

Topping the list of scorers at the moment while wearing Nike in the Philippines Football League is Ceres-Negros’ Bienvenido Marañon with a league-leading eight goals under his name, all while wearing Nike Tiempo 7 Stealth Ops.

Other goal-scorers for Nike in the PFL: Abou Sy (Stallion), Jovin Bedic (Kaya FC), Curt Dizon (Ceres-Negros), Mahir Karic (Ceres-Negros), Jeffrey Chirstiaens (Ceres-Negros), Floriano Pasilan (Green Archers), John Celiz (Green Archers), Fitch Arboleda (Stallion), Ashley Flores (Mendiola FC), Chima Uzoka (Stallion)

Photo credit: Philippines Football League

Stallion dominates, Kaya prevails as battle for early supremacy in PFL shapes up

Two matches in the Philippines Football League saw Stallion Laguna get a lopsided 6-1 win against Mendiola FC 1991 while Kaya FC Iloilo toiled to a 1-0 result against a resolute Global FC in last Saturday in the Philippines Football League.

Inspired second half for Stallion

After a seemingly close scoreline of 2-1 at halftime in favor of the hosts courtesy of an early Nathan Alquiros freekick in the sixth minute and a close range conversion by Fitch Arboleda in the eighth to go against a 20th minute penalty kick by Ashley Flores for the visiting side, the Biñan-based outfit produced an inspired performance after the restart to notch in four unanswered goals against 10-man Mendiola FC.

Substitute striker Chyma Uzoka produced a stellar output with his first hat-trick (55′, 83′, 87′) for his new club with Arboleda also adding another in the 86th minute to complete his brace.

Prior to the home side’s barrage, the writing was on the wall when Mendiola went down to ten-men in the 52nd minute when Franco Dela Torre got his marching orders from referee Michael Barajas for a second bookable offense.

The win puts Stallion in third place of the standings, overtaking Green Archers United (which they face on Wednesday, June 19) by a point.

Lone goal puts Kaya on top

Meanwhile, in an almost simultaneous match in Rizal Stadium, a 52nd minute opportunistic pounce by Alfred Osei has been the difference that broke Global’s gallant effort particularly from goalkeeper Nelson Gasic.

A lackluster performance in front of goal that lacked the usual killer instincts from their forward line, Kaya toiled to convert their chances despite a seemingly one-sided affair as Global focused on defense to avoid a similar walloping they suffered at the hands of Ceres-Negros.

At the end of the match, Global were successful in stymieing their more favored opponents for the most part, but they weren’t able to deny Kaya the full three points and hand them their first blemish in the standings as the Iloilo-based squad regains the leadership with a still perfect slate.

Battle for early supremacy shapes up

With Saturday’s results, a crucial match awaits on Wedensday. Although three fixtures are set on June 19, the match between Green Archers United and Stallion Laguna can be the most telling one as it will determine who will momentarily leap-frog Ceres-Negros and seize the provisional second spot in the table.

The clash will serve as the best opportunity for Green Archers to put their form to the test and how far they’ve progressed this early in their maiden season in the pro-ranks. Meanwhile for Stallion, their face-off with the Archers will serve as their next major challenge in their bid to vie for a spot for an AFC competition.

This Wednesday, June 19, is indeed going to be a major barometer for these two clubs.

Meanwhile, for the other fixtures, Philippine Air Force and Global set to battle on who will get their first win. On the other hand, winless Mendiola FC face a monumental task as they try to upset league leaders Kaya.

Photo credit: Kaya FC Iloilo, Stallion Laguna FC

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Stallion Laguna’s Biñan Stadium to co-host 2019 SEA Games football

Philippines Football League (PFL) club Stallion Laguna’s Biñan Stadium is co-hosting the football events along with Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

In an article published by Philstar.com on the venues for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games which will be held in the Philippines, the 2,580-seater infrastructure in Laguna is tapped to be one of the two which will see football matches of the biennial tournament.

The newly built facility is very much a worthy place to host such a level of competition given its FIFA 2-star rated artificial pitch to go with the picturesque features of the stadium and its immediate surroundings.

However, as of this moment, Biñan Football Stadium still doesn’t have lighting which hampers it from hosting evening matches in the PFL.

But with its planned hosting of the SEA Games which are slated from November until December of 2019, the development seems to be a very positive one as it points that the stadium will be able to complete the lighting requirements on schedule.

Upon initial and brief on-line conversation with Stallion head coach Ernest Nierras, the only pending item for the lighting to be completed is the delivery of the transformers which, despite no definite timeframe provided yet, is bound to happen soon in time for the regional sporting spectacle.

With this, it can be expected that the PFL and Stallion will benefit as well as it could mean that soon enough, once the lights are up and running, league fixtures in Biñan can already accommodate evening kick-offs which could serve as a trial before its first big international football hosting event.

Photo credit: Mark Malcampo