Photo by Manila Bulletin
The football wars have gone silent here in our beautiful land – at least until the weekend. While Ceres Negros FC have run roughshod over the rest of the League in clinching a title trifecta, the Copa Paulino Alcantara represents a new chance for the rest of the members of the League to bask in glory. Kaya Iloilo FC were able to get their hands on the first Copa last year; with their runners-up absent what’s going to happen?
Also, to address the withdrawal of Global Makati FC:
It’s a shame a once proud footballing institution in this great land is slipping further and further into the sad yet apt grasp of death. While yes, it’s been a rough couple of years for them, their withdrawal is a sad inditement on a backroom drama that should put the fear of God in anyone looking to operate an enterprise. Make it through to next season in whatever state, please?
On to the previews!
– At first glance, having the under-22s join in as part of their preparations for the SEA Games is admirable – the principle of iron sharpens iron is in full display and we can only hope this spurs on the young men to do well.
The downside to their joining lies in one simple fact – will their confidence hold up as results turn against them? The physicality is something they’re likely to be able to adjust, but what about a mental blow?
Games of note: 10/27 vs GAU @ Aboitiz Lipa, 10/30 vs Ceres @ Biñan Football Stadium
*PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE FC*
– The Airmen showed more than a pulse to round off the 2019 PFL season, with improved performances damn near every week. In a short group with Kaya and Stallion though, will they be able to grind out the points they need to make a miracle run at the Cup?
Games of note: 10/26 v Kaya @ Aboitiz Lipa, 10/30 v Stallion @ Aboitiz Lipa
– The Bravos had a, well, *somewhat* dichotomous season – the first half saw them swashbuckle their way through many close losses while the second half saw them trade in their attacking verve for solidity at the back and a solid 5th-place finish. The question facing them now is simple – can they balance those two extremes?If they can, and results break their way, a possible Cup run is well in the offing.
Games of note: 10/26 v Ceres @ Aboitiz Lipa, 10/30 v GAU @ Aboitiz Lipa
*GREEN ARCHERS UNITED FC*
– The Archers have had a good season, defying this scribe’s personal prediction by not only comfortably being best of the rest, but very nearly breaking into the top 3. Built on a solid back-line and a great timeshare in goal between Ray Joyel and Henri Fong Bandeken the Green and White have serious aspirations of notching the cup. Can they make it?
Games of note: vs Mendiola as mentioned earlier, 11/06 vs Ceres @ Aboitiz Lipa
*STALLION LAGUNA FC*
– The Pink and Black have had, well, a rough end to the year. An injury report filled to the brim, a miniature schneid results-wise and integrating some new players in hampered the Stallion momentum in the latter stages. The good thing is those new players have added great things to the midfield. Barring injury this should be a good run from the mighty Stallion machine. Win one for Cap?
Game of note: 11/06 v Kaya at BFS
*CERES NEGROS FC*
– The Champs say they want to win the Double this year, and on raw talent they have the jump on everyone. Games aren’t played on paper though, and with fatigue playing a factor surely they must be looking at it realistically?
Game of note: 10/30 vs U-22 Azkals @ BFS
*KAYA ILOILO FC*
– The Copa holders are primed and ready to add another pot to the cabinet. With Golden Boot winner Jordan Mintah scoring for fun and a side relatively fresh from only playing league football for half the year the Mighty look prised to repeat, but can they keep focused the whole way?
With this in mind, I’d like to bring in my fellow Huddlers to hear their Copa picks.
Green Archers United and Ceres Negros make it out of Group A, with Kaya pipping Stallion at the top of Group B via tiebreakers.
Semis-wise, I see Stallion knocking Archers out and Ceres grinding one out against Kaya. The Final is a different aninal, but I’ll err on a 2:1 Stallion win.
There you have it, our predictions for the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara. What other picks would you have?Let us know anywhere you follow us, and have a good one!