pff-election-landscape

[OPINION] PFF Elections 2019: A plea

The Philippine Azkals have just concluded their final match for 2019 in Dubai, giving a short lull for in football proceedings before all attention by most Filipino football fans and stakeholders get channeled to the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games which will be held in Manila.

And as the football events kick off in the SEA Games, with fans busy in showing their support to the U-22 men and women’s teams in their respective campaigns, a much more important event that would significantly influence the course of Philippine football in the next few years is about to happen: The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Congress where the elections for the new administration will happen.

In the coming November 29 elections, two parties will be vying for the presidential spot. One incumbent seeking a fourth term, while the other – a tenured official in the sport – is running for the highest office for the first time.

Both have plans, good ones (on paper, at least), but here’s the thing: As with any elections, only one candidate can win. And the fates of both will lie on the most crucial players come the main event – the FA representatives.

As of the moment, there are 36 associations (33 regional FA’s and 3 pro clubs) that make up the PFF. Each of these has a leader or president that will serve as the representative in the congress and has the power to vote come elections on who will be the next head of the federation.

So here are my statement and plea to the regional FA leaders who have the ability to choose the next head of Philippine football: VOTE WISELY! This will be the occasion that each of you wields an immense power – YOUR VOTE. Study the platforms of the two hopefuls carefully, including their respective track records. In your hands lie the immediate future of football.

Please, don’t take it for granted. It’s on you.

Kaya-v-Ceres-Odawara-v-Omura

HISTORY! Invincibles Ceres snatch Copa Alcantara to complete perfect season

Goals from Robert Lopez Mendy and Tristan Kit Robles were enough, despite a late Kenshiro Daniels goal for Kaya, as Ceres-Negros snatch the crown and win 2-1 in the final for an unprecedented double in the 2019 edition of the Copa Paulino Alcantara that was held last November 16 in Binan Laguna.

Right after kickoff, Ceres-Negros immediately tried to employ a high-pressure approach with Senegalese striker Robert Lopez Mendy even finding the back of the net in the fourth minute, only to be ruled offside.

Kaya meanwhile were caught on their back-heels, defending in numbers, with a fifth minute corner by the busmen’s holding midfielder Miguel Tanton successfully finding Japanese enforcer Takashi Odawara who headed just wide.

Ceres continued to pile up some promising chances against their opponents as the defending cup holders looked disjointed in the early proceedings.

In the 11th minute, Roland Muller landed awkwardly after colliding with fellow busman Dennis Villanueva while saving a threatening ball from Kaya  that put a brief stoppage in the proceedings, but the net-minder turned out to be alright.

A free-kick by Kaya in the 18th minute came begging but ultimately came to naught as the play was easily dealt with by the Ceres-Negros defense.

A chance for the Bacolod-based club arrived in the 20th minute with Junior Munoz, operating from the right flank, unleashing Robert Lopez Mendy who fired from range only for keeper Michael Casas to parry the effort and snuff out the threat.

But Kaya were awarded a freekick in a very promising position, just outside Ceres’ penalty box, a few moments later. However, Kenshiro Daniels’ attempt went just wide of the near post.

Michael Casas once again was called to action for Kaya in the 27th minute when a dangerous ball went deceivingly near his goal.

In the 28th minute, Jovin Bedic had a golden opportunity for Kaya with only Roland Muller to beat, but his shot was deflected by the Ceres goalkeeper away from goal.

And just at the stroke of the half hour mark, Ceres-Negros produced the icebreaker off a stunning counter-attacking move, with James Younghusband providing the dangerous cross at speed towards an onrushing Robert Mendy who dispatched the ball into Kaya’s net without any hint of doubt at point-blank range.

Kaya immediately tried to respond within the next minute, with the ball finding Jayson Panhay but the winger’s effort was way high over the bar to even worry Muller at goal.

Coach Noel Marcaida’s men continued to search for an equalizer coming close once again in the 35th minute with Daniels firing wide from a considerable distance after receiving a well-worked ball from Ghanaian midfielder Alfred Osei.

Kaya continued to be unrelenting, with Panhay firing from an angle inside the box within the next minute, but his shot was well handled by Ceres captain, Muller.

In the 41st minute the busmen once again got into high-gear producing another chance with James Younghusband’s cross from the right wing just missing Mendy.

Kaya almost got an answer from an ensuing play, with Jordan Mintah unleashing a shot that flew narrowly off-target as the first half eventually came to an end after a minute of added time with the three-peat league champions enjoying a slim 1-0 lead.

After the restart, Ceres-Negros continued where they left off showing more impetus and verve in their plays and seemingly enjoying their role as underdogs in the final. 

With the situation obviously not favoring Kaya, Coach Noel Marcaida was forced to make an early change with Connor Tacagni replacing Panhay to provide more presence and industry up front.

In the 58th minute Kaya showed a glimpse of the promise they can conjure in their attack but a deceiving cross failed to find Kenshiro Daniels who could have headed the ball at speed.

In the 63rd minute, a freekick from Daniels from the right midfield found Darryl Roberts who just cannot direct the ball on-target with his header.

In the 67th minute Kaya had best chance to equalize off a set piece with Masanari Omura connecting with Daniels’ freekick only for the ball to shave the far post and bounce out of danger as Ceres got a fortunate break.

The defending champions will immediately rue that gilt-edged opportunity as right in the next play, Ceres doubled their lead with Tristan Kit Robles putting himself in the scoresheet by burying the chance off a well crafted lay-off from Mendy.

The Iloilo-based squad pushed forth to get themselves a goal with Bedic producing an effort that was easily dealt with 30 minutes after the restart while a venomous header from Tacagni forced Muller to an acrobatic save but still a breakthrough still did not arrive.

Tense moments followed for Ceres, as Kaya came close thrice near the 80th minute mark, but the league champions were let off the hook in all of those three.

James Younghusband who was on a receiving end of a collision moments ago was replaced by Charles Ivan Barberan.

Younghusband’s absence may have unsettled the balance in Ceres as five minutes before the 90th minute mark, Kaya finally scored a goal with Kenshiro Daniels putting his team back in the game.

Kaya continued to knock into Ceres’ defense with Daniels proving to be an inspiration for his team late in the match with an 87th minute freekick hitting the crossbar.

A nervy end to the match with four minutes of added time proved to be a nail-biter with the league invincibles defending with their dear lives, but the equalizer failed to arrive as Ceres-Neros achieved an unprecedented double in Philippine Football’s professional era going unbeaten for the whole 2019 domestic campaign.

A much tougher Copa Alcantara in 2020?

The Copa Paulino Alcantara serves as country’s counterpart to the FA Cup and is under the auspices of the Philippine Football Federation with the Philippines Football League commissioned to lead the organization of the tournament.

Unlike a “league cup” competition where the tournament is limited only to participants of the top-flight and, to an extent, the second division in other countries, the FA Cup is actually a knockout battle royale of all professional clubs and the PFL is planning to apply that essence in the next Copa Alcantara edition.

Given that the PFL is the only league made up of fully professional clubs, it is being mulled by PFL Commissioner Coco Torre to open the Copa to semi-professional teams and clubs pending certain requirements from the organizers.

If the expansion of the cup to non-PFL clubs pushes through for the 2020 edition, it would mean that it will be a much tougher road for the participating clubs to win the cup.

Photo credit: Philippines Football League Facebook Page

PFF-U15-National-Championship

PFF U15: NCR, NOFA off to perfect starts in 2019 National Championship

National Capital Region (NCR) FA registered a lopsided win in Group A action during the opening day of Philippine Football Federation (PFF) U15 Boys National Championship 2019 held last November 11 at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.

NCR gave a stellar overall performance scoring in double-figures to post a one-sided 11-0 result in their opener against Federated FA of Masbate (FFAM), with Matthias Lozano scoring a hat-trick and Scott Mackenzi registering a brace as both led NCR in the goalscoring department.

Top scorer Matthias Lozano showed such high-level of form during his shift, providing more than enough damage already that he was substituted out just five minutes after the hour mark.

In the other match, Laguna romped to a 4-0 start to the championship with Louis Angelo Junio producing an inspired performance with two conversions to lead his team against Cordillera RFA.

The Southern Tagalogs got to a dream start with Junio getting the breakthrough in just the eighth minute. Roenz Bicua then doubled the lead seven minutes after the half-hour mark as Laguna ended the first half with a two-goal cushion.

In the second half, quick back-to-back goals from Vincent Saludo and Junio just a few moments past the hour mark, sealed the deal for Laguna FA as they secured a convincing result to begin their Championship campaign.

But come their second assignment that has just been recently concluded this November 13, Laguna suffered their first loss against Negros Occidental FA (NOFA), as they succumbed to a 0-2 defeat.

An early dagger inflicted by Mark Gabriel Cantos within the first minute of the match, followed by a late jugular from John Andrei Roldan in added time proved to be enough as the Western Visayans were able to get a perfect start to their campaign.

FFA Masbate meanwhile saw themselves still very much in the competition, getting a lifeline after they were able to crucially bounce back from the previous setback they suffered against NCR by dismantling Cordillera RFA with a 3-1 win on November 13.

Kervin Tacdoy seemed to have put his Northern Luzon-based squad in a very promising situation when he converted a chance in the 32nd minute, but a second-half fightback from the Masbateños proved to be enough as Carl James Zaragoza registered back-to-back goals in the 47th and 53rd minutes respectively, before Gian Francisco put any doubts to rest with an 85th minute icing on the cake.

The PFF National Championship will continue until November 19. The rest of the fixtures are below:

The National Championship is contested by the best teams which already progressed from the grinding Regional Group Stage that transpired from late June to late September this year.

Photo credit: Philippine Football Federation

Azkals-Asian-Cup-Qualification

Azkals’ long road to Qatar World Cup 2022 qualification set

The Philippine National Football team is set to face powerhouse teams Syria and China as its initial path to World Cup qualification has finally been determined after the draw for the second round of the Asian Football Confederation [AFC] qualifiers has been concluded this Wednesday, July 17, at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Drawn in Group A with Maldives and Guam along with the aforementioned Asian footballing giants, the Philippines first phase of the journey to the pinnacle of international football competition which will be held in Qatar has been laid out. It will also serve as the springboard for the Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers which will be held in China.

Meanwhile it is an important footnote that Group G turned out to be an ASEAN ‘Group of Death’ with the regions powerhouses such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia finding themselves altogether with continental powerhouse UAE as the only outsider.

The first match of Group A is set to begin on September 5, 2019.

Photo credit: PFF

PFF U15 Championship sees 85 goals in first weekend

The Philippine Football Federation’s Stars of Tomorrow Under-15 Championship has completed its first set of fixtures in different venues nationwide during the past weekend that saw a festival of goals.

Federated FA of Masbate (FFAM) of Group D supplied the most when it comes to the goalscoring statistic after shaking the back of the net in their favor 28 times while maintaining cleansheets in two matches with an 11-0 win and a 17-0 walloping both against Legazpi-Albay RFA.

SOCSARGEN FA scored a massive victory with a 16-1 result at home against Sultan Kudarat FA (SKRFA) in Group H while Mount Apo RFA (MARFA) of Group H rounded up the double-figures feats with a 17-2 result against Maguindanao.

Meanwhile, two clashes ended up tightly contested with Negros Occidental FA (NOFA) carving out a massive 1-0 victory away against evenly matched rivals Central Visayas (CVRFA) in Group E and a Group F encounter between Zamboanga-Sulu-Tawi-tawi FA (ZAMBASULTA) and Zamboanga del Norte-Dipolog RFA (ZANDIFA) settled with both teams sharing spoils off a 1-1 draw.

RFA of Camarines Norte (REFACAMNOR) got a convincing 8-3 victory over Central Bicol RFA (CBRFA) at home in Group D while National Capital Region (NCR FA) kept Cavite FA (CAFA) at bay with a 1-6 scoreline in an away victory in Group A.

Early top individual performers on record are Rich Paraña (five goals), Harold Calandria (four goals), and Cyrus Princillo (three goals) all from FFAM while Matthias Lozano of NCR also has three goals under his name.

Here are the complete match results:

Source: Philippine Football Federation

Photo credit: Philippine Football Federation

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Former Azkals Head Coach Thomas Dooley to write a book and set up academy in the Philippines

In a Facebook post, former Philippine Akals head coach and former US Soccer MNT captain Thomas Dooley is in the process of authoring his own book, while at the same, time building a football academy in the Philippines that aims to help the country qualify for the World Cup.

Without divulging much about the details about the book, Coach Dooley – who guided the Azkals towards their first ever Asian Cup qualification – informed that it will be more of either a memoir or an autobiography in nature.

Thomas Dooley, aside from being the national team’s former head coach and a former captain of the US Soccer Men’s National Team [who featured in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup tournaments], also played club football mainly as a defender in the German Bundesliga where he became a multi-titled player in the process by winning the 1990 DFB Pokal [Germany’s equivalent to the League Cup], the 1990-91 German Super Cup and the 1990-91 German Bundesliga title with 1. FC Kaiserslautern, while adding the UEFA Cup in 1996-97 with Schalke 04.

He also played in the USA’s Major League Soccer for clubs Columbus Crew and New Jersey Metro Stars [now known as New York Red Bulls] in the latter part of his already stellar career.

Aside from the book, the coach [in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas 2 show “Sports Eye” last January 23, 2019] also has a plan for 2026 which is to help the Philippines qualify for the World Cup by working at the youth level through putting together a football academy which will be free for the players.

“I don’t want an academy for the rich people. [I want it] for [finding] the [right] quality [of players],” Thomas Dooley shared.

“I think there is a huge market over here for football. That’s why I think if we do the right thing in the future, we can create a football culture in this country and if I can do that in my spare time or even full-time, then I would be happy,” added Thomas Dooley.

Thomas Dooley began his tenure as the head coach of the Philippines’ senior football team in February 2014 on a one-year contract. A run of encouraging results earned him two more extensions that ran until March 2018.

Although even after guiding the Philippine National Football Team to its first ever Asian Cup, Dooley’s contract was never renewed or extended.

In spite of his direct involvement with the Philippines coming to a close, the coach opted to stay in the country and be more involved in the youth level via the building of the aforementioned academy in which the venue is still being deliberated and yet to be finalised.

“I’ve been here [in the Philippines, for the past] five years [and] I haven’t left,” shared the coach to Radyo Pilipinas 2.

“I love it over here. I could go back to the US or maybe in Germany… [but] I always want to live here.”

philippine-premier-league

Philippine Premier League matches to be aired live on TV

At the launch of the country’s new top-tier professional football competition, the Philippine Premier League [PPL] on January 23, a TV partnership with ESPN5 has been in place which will air at least 23 league fixtures.

It is to note that television coverage has been a challenge in the previous seasons and the development for the coming season under a completely new league brand is a positive aspect that football fans in the Philippines should look forward to as partial coverage of matches will be shown on free to air TV.

Aside from the airing of complete matches, regular updates with highlight reels are also expected which will be shown via the sports network’s nightly magazine show, SportsCenter.

And with the emerging new media, the league is also planning to take advantage of such platform therefore live streaming of fixtures is also being planned.