Tuesday, August 2, 2011
GROUP competitions for the inaugural Philippine Football Federation-Smart Club Championships will be held simultaneously in Cagayan de Oro City and Iloilo on August 9, organizers said Tuesday.
The Don Gregorio Pelaez Sports Center will be the venue of the Group A games while the Barotac Nuevo football field in lloilo will host the Group B matches in Iloilo, PFF competitions head Cyril Dofitas said in a briefing.
The sports center, which recently underwent a facelift, is the first venue outside Metro Manila that hosted the prestigious Palarong Pambansa in 1975.
Teams bracketed under Group A in Cagayan de Oro are Iligan, Leyte, National Capital Region-2 and Rizal while in Group B in Iloilo are Baguio-Benguet, Davao, Iloilo and NCR 1.
“With this event, the PFF aims to strengthen club competitions at the provincial level while giving opportunities for aspiring football players a showcase for their talent would not be available for them had this tournament not been around,” he said.
For his part, Chris Quimpo of Smart Sports said the tournament is part of the P80 million that Smart chief Manny Pangilinan invested for the long-term development of football, popularized here by the men’s national team Azkals.
Both Quimpo and Dofitas said that some national players will be suiting up for some clubs with the Younghusband brothers, Phil and James, seeing action for the Rizal side that will carry the colors of Smart San Beda Football Club.
The team will be mentored by former national coach and current PFF technical director Aris Caslib.
On the other hand, Azkals veteran wingman Chieffy Caligdong and striker Ian Araneta will be playing for Teknika in the Cagayan de Oro leg, representing the second squad that qualified from the National Capital Region.
Smart Stallions FC, representing Iloilo, will have former national stalwarts Jovanie Simpron, Ruben Doctora, and three youthful but skillful South Korean students from Central Philippines University – Kim Seong Jin, Nam Yeoh No, and Lee Jeo Young.
Dofitas said the top two teams in both groups after the single-round elimination will advance to the crossover semifinals scheduled on August 16 and 17 at the University of Makati Stadium.
Under this scenario, the Group A topnotcher faces the Group B runner-up while the Group B first placer takes on the runner-up in Group B.
Similar to the Suzuki Cup and the recent World Cup qualifiers, the two finalists will dispute the championship on a home-and-away basis on August 20 and August 23.
Depending on the outcome of the semifinals, there is a possibility that both championship matches will be held at the refurbished Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, Quimpo and Dofitas both said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)