CAGAYAN DE ORO – Sports fans here and Iloilo are in for a football treat when the PFF-Smart Club Championships group eliminations begin Tuesday at the Don Gregorio Pelaez Memorial Stadium and at the Barotac Nuevo Football Field, respectively.
PFF executive vice president Mike Batiles, who is also president of the host Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Football Association (CMOFA), will formally kick off the Group A tourney here to be graced by Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno.
Bao Breakers FC of Iligan, Laos FC of Leyte, Smart San Beda FC of Rizal, bannered by Phil and James Younghusband, and Teknika FC will be slugging it out in the Group A contests supported by Nature’s Spring, Mister Donut, Salon de Manila and Xavier University.
Over in Iloilo, PFF president and former national standout Mariano Araneta Jr. will go back to his hometown of Barotac Nuevo and will be joined by Smarts Sports executive Epok Quimpo in opening the Group B competition featuring Smart Stallions FC, Columbia FC of Davao, Pachanga of NCR and Baguio United FC.
The match-ups in the first day of the event were to be drawn during the team managers’ meeting scheduled late yesterday.
Batiles said football fever has gripped Misamis Oriental and neighboriing provinces and expects the Don Pelaez Memorial Stadium to be teeming with football aficionados to watch the games despite the fact they are being played on weekdays.
“All the 8,000 tickets we printed and priced at P40 each for the opening day were all sold out so we can expect a good crowd tomorrow,” said Batiles, who was quick to attribute the strong response to the popularity of the Philippine Azkals.
“Without the Azkals all of these things would not be possible,” Batiles said. “Their strong showing in recent international competitions has raised the profile of local football.”
He also acknowledged the support of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano and “the hundreds of CMOFA volunteers” for the staging of the PFF-Smart Club Group A meet.
We in Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro are more than ready to hold this tournament,” Batiles said.
The group topnotcher and runners-up from each bracket after a single-round elims advance to the the crossover semifinals scheduled Aug. 16 and 17 at the University of Makati football field.
The home-and-away finals will be stated on Aug. 20 and Aug. 23, possibly at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, organizers said.(Press Release)