One hundred years since Paulino Alcántara Riestrá began his career with Barcelona, the Philippines will be holding the Paulino Alcántara Cup in his honor. The four nation tournament will see the Philippines host the tournament in Bacolod, facing off against Macau, Guam, and Taiwan, in preparation for the Suzuki Cup later this year.
The schedule has been released, as per FIFA’s website, which shows that the Philippines will face Guam on September 25, Macau on September 27, and finally Taiwan on September 29. That final match between the Philippines and Taiwan is largely expected to decide the winner of the tournament, with the Philippines considered as favorites.
Based on the current rankings, the Azkals are ranked 150th in the world, while Taiwan are widely considered the second best of the four nations, ranked 175th in the world, though Guam has improved ten places in the last month to join Myanmar at 184th in the world, while Macau sits at 201th in the world.
Hong Kong won both editions of the Long Teng Cup, the tournament the Paulino Alcántara is reformatting, after first sending their U-23 side in 2010, and then their senior side in 2011.
In both years Philippine players won the golden boot plume. Ian Araneta scored four goals in the three matches in 2010, while Chieffy Caligdong scored four times, despite struggling with an injury, in 2011. The Azkals finished third in 2010 but were second in 2011.
The Philippines can now host a football tournament
With the Philippines hosting the tournament in Bacolod, organizers said that the competition is to be held in honor of the Fil-Spanish forward who began his football career one hundred years ago. At the suggestion of fans, the name of the Cup was changed and rebranded after Guam replaced Hong Kong in the tournament and Taiwan asked the Philippines to take over the hosting duties of the Long Teng Cup.
The tournament is now the perfect time for the Philippines to show they can host a competition after the disappointment of the 2010 Suzuki Cup which saw the then-PFF administration saying they were unable to even host their semifinal leg against Indonesia, forfeiting the hosting rights and playing both legs in Jakarta.
This time around, the Philippines can show their rapid development in football and vie for future hosting rights of the Suzuki Cup and other competitions. It could also be the first time since the 1913 Far Eastern Games where the Philippines could win a football trophy, after they won Gold 99 years ago by defeating China in the only game of the competition.
Azkals to also face Bahrain in October
The FIFA schedule also shows the Azkals will play against Bahrain, a highly rated Middle Eastern side ranked 102nd in the world. The friendly will be held on the 12th of October in Manama, Bahrain, and is currently slated as the last friendly match before the Suzuki Cup. It will be the eleventh friendly of the year, counting the Paulino Alcántara Cup as friendly matches as FIFA does.
Who is Paulino Alcántara?
Paulino Alcántara was born in Iloilo City. The Barcelona ace is highly regarded as the best Filipino footballer in history. He began his career with Barcelona in 1912 and is still the youngest player to both appear and score for the Catalan side, debuting on February 25, 1912, aged just fifteen years, four months, and eighteen days, and scoring a hat-trick in a 9-0 win over Català SC.
Born to a Spanish father and Filipino mother, Alcántara’s family moved to Spain when he was three years old. One hundred years after Alcántara began his fifteen year career, he is still Barcelona’s top goalscorer ever, with 369 goals in 357 games according to their records. His record, though, was achieved in both official and friendlies matches combined, while Lionel Messi’s 253 goal haul for the Catalan side is in official league and cup matches. In official matches alone, Alcántara scored 137 goals, as there were more friendlies and less official league and cup matches in those times.
Initially Alcántara stayed for four years in Barcelona before his family moved back to the Philippines. After initially representing Catalonia on the international stage at only thirteen years old, he played for the Philippines in the 1917 Far Eastern Championship Games and was a part of the Filipino team who annihilated Japan 15-2 on the pitch. This still stands as both the biggest win and the biggest loss of the Philippine and Japanese National teams, respectively.
Domestically Alcántara joined Bohemians and won the Philippine Championship in both his seasons with the club, but returned to Barcelona in 1918 and finished his career with them nine years later. During that time he amassed 369 goals and coined the “police shot”, after scoring a goal which hit a policeman and was so powerful, it took the ball and the policeman into the back of the net.
Internationally Alcántara also went on to represent Spain, originally being selected in 1920 for the Olympics, though he backed out in order to finish his medical exams. He eventually made his debut for Spain in October 1921, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Belgium. Two years later he gained the nickname ‘the net breaker’ after his shot broke the net in a game against France. In all, Alcántara made just five appearances for Spain, scoring six goals.
At the age of 31 Alcántara retired from football to become a doctor and Barcelona faced Spain in an exhibition match as a testimonial to his long service to the club. - AMD, GMA News