PFF Suzuki Cup U-23 kicks off March 18
MANILA, Philippines—Setting its sights on uncovering new talents for the national team, the Philippine Football Federation is holding the PFF Suzuki Cup National Men’s Under-23 Championship for the second straight year.
All 33 provincial football associations are expected to field teams in the tournament—a local adaptation of the popular Suzuki Cup Asean Football Championships, the event that sparked the rise of the Azkals.
The tournament kicks off with the Visayas elimination on March 18 in Dumaguete City.
The Mindanao leg gets going March 25 with the Northern Mindanao cluster elimination in Cagayan de Oro, while the Luzon event starts April 1 in Calamba, Laguna.
“We are grateful for the support of Suzuki to Philippine football,” said PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta at the press conference and MOA signing with Suzuki officials. “It’s going to be exciting as we will have a total of 126 matches for the entire tournament.”
Araneta said the home-and-away format—even at the cluster level—for the tournament will give provincial football associations a chance to organize and host a match.
Suzuki PH chief Satoshi Uchida welcomed the renewal of the partnership with the PFF.
“We’re very happy to partner with the PFF in developing our Under-23 team,” he said.
Among the products of the maiden staging of the Suzuki Cup were Joshua Beloya of reigning champion Negros Occidental, Neckson Leonora and Gerardo Valmayor, who played in the SEA Games in Indonesia late last year.
Araneta said this year’s standouts will also be considered for the team bound for the Myanmar SEA Games next year.
PFF competitions head Cyril Dofitas said the cut-off age for the tournament is 22 since the national finals will be held next year.