The Philippines Football League (PFL) will return for a third season to reboot the country’s top-tier tourney on Saturday, May 25, as 7 clubs confirmed their participation.
Back-to-back PFL champion Ceres-Negros FC and inaugural Paulino Alcantara titlist Kaya-Iloilo FC aim to continue their stellar runs to claim a spot in the 2020 AFC Cup while Global Makati FC and Stallion Laguna FC hope to cop a championship this time.
Newcomers Green Archers United, Mendiola FC and Philippine Air Force were granted provisional club licenses from the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), which allowed their participation in the league.
The club licensing issue was one of the factors that resulted to the defunct Philippine Premier League’s delayed opening, but the league operator was eventually terminated by the national federation. (READ: Philippine Premier League postpones opening games)
With the addition of one more club from last year’s six-team season, it gives each club more than 24 matches in the double round-robin, home-and-away format.
The number of matches played by each club including the playoffs and Paulino Alcantara Cup will be beneficial to raising the Philippine’s AFC club competitions ranking.
The ranking will help determine the country’s slots in both the AFC Champions League and the 2020 AFC Cup, which will give international exposure to more Philippine clubs.
“It’s part of the promise that a league goes through. The important thing now is that the clubs are together. We are introducing new clubs that were part of the United Football League,” said Stallion Laguna head coach Ernie Nierras.
The matches will mainly be played at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, the PFF national training center in Carmona, Biñan Football Stadium, Pana-ad Park and Stadium in Bacolod and Iloilo Sports Complex.
The PFF, Philippine Sports Commission, and respective local governments are also improving the stadium competitions in preparation for the Southeast Asian Games. But Ceres head coach Risto Vidakovic believes that this is also beneficial for the professional Filipino players.
“I think we all want to improve altogether. We want to grow as a league and we want to help Philippine football. Players [need] to play and train in good pitches to play good football,” said Vidakovic.
The league will open at the Rizal Memorial Stadium with Kaya-Iloilo clashing with Green Archers United at 4 pm and Ceres-Negros kicking off their title defense over Stallion Laguna at 7 pm.