Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino visited the Philippines for the first time last October 20th as the leader of the football governing-body is sit down with the local football leaders on the progress of the sport in the country.
Infantino met with Philippine Football Federation(PFF) President Mariano ‘’Nonong’’ Araneta and other officials of the federation on his short visit to update Infantino about the programs PFF is undertaking to further elevate the sport in the country that was funded by the FIFA Forward Program including the National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite, the PFF Women’s League and the Philippines Football League (PFL) among others.
“We need to develop more infrastructure, we are working on a project in Carmona, the headquarters of the federation, on pitches and so on,” Infantino said via ESPN 5. “On competitions, we have been able to fund in the last couple of years, and we will do that also in the future, competitions for boys and for girls.”
Aside from meeting Philippine football top officials, Infantino also sitdown with boxing icon and Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao and fellow senator Pia Cayetano to talk about the role of the sport in social development of the country.
Infantino also gave Pacquiao, who is also the founder of Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), his own football kit as a souvenir.
The incumbent FIFA President also believed the Philippines can compete for a spot in the FIFA World Cup in 10 to 15 years from now if the local football scene continued to progress.
“Certainly we want to see the Philippines in the World Cup or at least fighting very close to be in the World Cup,” Infantino quoted via Manila Bulletin said.
Infantino made the prediction, especially the World Cup will expand the teams qualified from 32 to 48 teams, starting in 2026 edition.
’I’m very positive about football in the Philippines,” Infantino added. “I mean, already if you see the most recent results in the last year or two with a qualification in the Asian Cup for men, and for women as well so the last couple of years I’ve shown that some work is done. And that some progress is made.’’
“Look at the size of the country, 110 million people and there’s talent on the field as well. I’m sure the Philippines will play a key role in the future, certainly in the ASEAN but also in the world.”
Defending champion Kaya Iloilo, PFL champ Ceres-Negros lead Copa Paulino Alcantara semifinalist
Defending champion Kaya Iloilo and PFL champion Ceres-Negros are some club qualified for the semifinals of the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara with the Group Stages finished just before the All Saints Daybreak.
Kaya Iloilo and Ceres-Negros were joined by Stallion Laguna FC and Mendiola FC 1991 to qualify in the semifinals.
Ceres-Negros finished with seven points to lead Group A after beating the Philippine U-22 team, 2-1 with Dylan de Bruker and Robert Lopez Mendy scored for the Busmen in the 61st and 66th-minute respectively, canceling the goal of U-22 member Yrick Gallentes in the 30th minute.
The Busmen beat Green Archers United 4-0 to end their Group Stage campaign with James Younghusband, Mike Ott, Charles Berberan and Mendy found the back of the net in 16th, 67th, 79th and 82nd minute respectively.
Mendiola FC 1991 made it to the next round in beating Green Archers United 1-0 via Jim Ashley Flores goal in the 18th minute and 2-2 draw against the U-22 team, which Hamed Hajimahdi and Flores tallied a goal each, recorded in the 45th and 69th minute respectively.
Mendiola FC finished second with five points.
Kaya Iloilo meanwhile ended their Group B campaign on top despite a 1-1 draw against Stallion Laguna to finish with four points same with the Laguna-based club.
Stallion Laguna beat Philippine Air Force, 2-1 and battled Kaya Iloilo into a 1-1 draw to punch a ticket to the semifinals as the second seed.
Ceres-Negros will face Stallion Laguna while Kaya Iloilo lock horns with Mendiola FC as the crossover semifinals is set to take place on November 10th.