Azkals U22 grouped with PFL champ Ceres Negros after Copa draw

MANILA — The Philippine U22 team for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games will get a quick acid test as they join no less than reigning Philippines Football League champion Ceres Negros in the same group during the draw for the Copa Paulino Alcantara on Sunday at the headquarters of the Philippine Football Federation in Pasig City.

The U22 Azkals and Ceres Negros will headline Group A along with Mendiola and Green Archers United (GAU).

Meanwhile, Group B consists of Copa Paulino Alcantara defending champion Kaya Iloilo, Stallion Laguna, and Air Force.

Global Makati opted to beg off from the tournament.

The “Copa” will begin on Saturday with a doubleheader at a venue to be disclosed later.

Ceres Negros will take on Mendiola in the first match, and Kaya Iloilo will battle Air Force in the second game.

The U22 Azkals will make their Copa debut next Sunday against GAU.

Stallion Laguna, due to Global Makati’s backing out, will only make its Copa debut on Oct. 30 against Air Force in one of three matches scheduled on that day.

The top two teams from each group after the single round-robin eliminations will qualify for the knockout crossover semifinals on Nov. 10, where the winners will contend for the cup title on November 16.

The Biñan Football Stadium, according to Stallion Laguna president and head coach Ernie Nierras, is being eyed as the venue of the cup playoffs in hopes of possibly making it a test event for the SEA Games.

The venue will host the women’s football competition of the regional meet from Nov. 28-December 10. Ivan Stewart Saldajeno/PNA- northboundasia.com