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    With United City out, Kaya, ADT, and Co. look to win Copa Paulino Alcantara

    Nov 6, 2021
    Kaya FC
    Kaya FC tries to grab its first Copa Paulino Alcantara since 2018.
    PHOTO: AFC

    A WIDE-OPEN race looms for the 2021 Copa Paulino Alcantara following the decision of United City FC to skip this year’s competition that left the tournament with only five clubs.

    2021 Copa Paulino Alcantara teams preview

    The Philippines Football League (PFL) cup competition will push through on Sunday despite the absence of last year’s league champion UCFC for reasons it hasn’t revealed as of yet. But the show goes on for the five remaining teams who are eager to take advantage of the absence of the powerhouse club to win a trophy this year.

    “We are excited especially we won this competition in 2018,” said Yu Hoshide, head coach of Kaya FC-Iloilo, during a pre-competition virtual press conference on Friday. “We want to win again and bring the trophy to Iloilo.”

    Fresh from its stint in the AFC Champions League, Kaya FC-Iloilo led by Jovin Bedic will look to win its second Copa Paulino Alcantara trophy this year, but standing in the way are four other clubs including Azkals Development Team (ADT), their opponent for the first match of the competition on Sunday, 7:30 p.m. at the National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.

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    The ADT recently saw action for the Philippines in the AFC Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers in Singapore but coach Giovanni Villagracia played down the team’s chances as they have been in quarantine following the tournament until on Saturday, the eve of the Copa.

    “Actually, we have limited place to train. We play Kaya in the first game and it so happened na bukas kami lalabas na quarantine. Bukas din kami magsasama ‘yung team. It’s not an excuse para mag-compete,” said Villagracia.

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    Most of the team that saw action in Singapore such as Oliver Bias and Yrick Gallantes will be competing in the Copa, according to Villagracia.

    Aside from Kaya and ADT, Mendiola FC is also in Group B where coach Dan Padernal is hopeful that his club will pull off some upsets in the competition.

    “We know the quality of UCFC, Kaya, Stallion, and all the teams. It’s a very good opportunity na nabawasan ng malakas,” said Padernal.

    As to their group, Padernal said: “We know that Kaya is very tough. And the ADT is coming back. Very tough ‘yung bracket namin so diyan mag-eexcel ang Mendiola. Gusto namin ‘yung pinapahirapan kami. We have a game plan and strategies that hopefully will work.”

    With United City out, Group A is down to two clubs with Stallion FC facing Dynamic Herb Cebu FC on November 10.

    Stallion coach Ernie Nierras said he is just happy that the club is back in the competition following the 2020 league where it finished last among six teams.

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    “Hopefully, we will have a good game and hopefully, we will do our best. We’ve been training and preparing and wanting to be part of this competition for a while. Now it’s happening. I’m really, really happy that we are able to do this,” said Nierras.

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      After several months of training in Cebu, Dynamic Herb will be seeing action for the first time in the PFL, and coach Bingbing Colina said the club will be fighting to pull off victories in their first competition.

      “It’s a big test for us. We hope that we will have a good game. Whatever the result for us, it’s important that we have to play, enjoy, and have fun. We always keep fighting. The Cebu mentality is we don’t want to lose also. We have to have that winning mentality,” said Colina.

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      Kaya FC tries to grab its first Copa Paulino Alcantara since 2018.
      PHOTO: AFC
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