MANILA, Philippines — The Asean Football Federation (AFF) has thrown out the appeal of the Philippine Football Federation to hold the Suzuki Cup semifinals between the Philippines and Indonesia in Bacolod City and reaffirmed that the two semifinal matches on December 16 and 19 will be both held at the Geloga Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The supposed home-and-away encounter that could have given the country a chance to host a historic game on home soil was denied after the AFF concluded that the country does not have a football field that meets international standards.
The Philippines had earlier hoped that a neutral country could host the first game – in this case Vietnam – which has accepted a request from the Philippines.
But this, too, was turned down by the Asian federation.
Philippine Football Federation (PFF) head Mariano Araneta on Friday said the AFF decision was approved by ousted PFF president Jose Mari Martinez, reportedly still recognized by FIFA as the association head.
Martinez was voted out of office by PFF directors during a recent meeting but Martinez appealed the results to FIFA which reportedly ordered another election.
The PFF, under Araneta’s leadership, immediately sent an e-mail message to the AFF Friday morning to reverse the decision, but the AFF answered on the same day that the decision to bring the matches in Indonesia is final.
Araneta added they tried their "best to bring the match in the country,” and said that the local government of Negros, the provincial football association there, the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee agreed to provide everything to make it possible.
“Facing Indonesia is already tough for our team; playing against them in Jakarta makes it a harder task,” Araneta said.
“But our team is strong. I believe that they can handle it and they won’t get distracted with whatever is happening in the association right now.”