The Copa Paulino Alcantara, the country’s top domestic cup competition, will take place instead of the Philippines Football League season on Nov. 7 at the National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.
The Philippine Football Federation officially announced the decision Wednesday, Oct. 27 after attempts to stage this year’s PFL season fell through following multiple postponements caused by restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As much as we would have wanted to stage the PFL season, certain key conditions were not met, which forced us to defer the league season for next year,” said PFF president Nonong Araneta. “In its place, the PFF will stage the Copa Paulino Alcantara. We are one with the fans who miss football being played in the country during this pandemic.”
Named after Filipino great Paulino Alcantara who played for Barcelona in the 1920s, the Copa had been twice in 2018 and 2019 but was cancelled last year when the global pandemic forced the PFL to shorten its season to two weeks under a bubble setup in Carmona.
Initial plans were for the Copa to be held last April but the pandemic again forced another cancellation as the PFL decided to focus on starting the league season.
But the PFL couldn’t meet its target dates after the government imposed stricter quarantine measures following a rise in COVID-19 cases.
A ray of hope, however, opened when Cavite was placed under Alert Level 3, meaning the PFL can proceed with staging the season under a “closed-circuit biomedical bubble” as prescribed in the Joint Administrative Order of the Games and Amusements Board, Philippine Sports Commission and Department of Health.
But PFL commissioner Coco Torre informed all clubs last Oct. 18 that the season will be cancelled to make way for the cup competition.
Under the cup format, six clubs will be split into two groups with each of the top two squads advancing to the semifinals while the bottom teams square off in a Plate match.
Winners of the two semis matches on Nov. 17 will meet in the Copa Final on Nov. 19, with the losers battling it out for third place on the same day.