The five participating clubs are bracing for a wide open and competitive race in the Copa Paulino Alcantara which starts Sunday, Nov. 7 following the sudden withdrawal of last year’s Philippines Football League champion United City.

United City opted to back out of joining the returning cup competition which starts Sunday, Nov. 7 at the PFF National Training Centre in Carmona, Cavite, giving clubs a clear window to win this year’s only domestic football competition.

“Everybody has a chance to win, that’s why we’re always training hard,” said Kaya-Iloilo’s Japanese coach Yu Hoshide, whose club could have the advantage after joining United City as the two Filipino clubs that played in the AFC Champions League earlier this year.

“Maybe the other clubs are training hard, so that’s why we have to give our 100 percent on the field,” he added.

Kaya’s bid to win its first Copa since the inaugural edition in 2018 will have to go through the Azkals Development Team and Mendiola FC 1991 in Group B where two semifinal slots are at stake.

ADT and Mendiola placed third and fourth during last year’s shortened PFL season.

The exit of United City assured Stallion-Laguna and new club Dynamic Herb-Cebu of the two semis berths in Group A.

Stallion is out to rebound from a disappointing 2020 when it finished last while Cebu will look to make a strong impression in its maiden competition.

“I think every team is beatable and every team has a chance also,” said Cebu coach Bing Colina. “I think the most prepared team will win the competition.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (