By JONAS TERRADO
MANILA, Philippines — After riveting the country on its exploits, the Philippine football team hopes to take its Cinderella run in the AFF Suzuki Cup out of the ASEAN fairy tale pages and into the realm of global soccer reality with tough international matches scheduled next year.
Seeking to build momentum following their impressive performance against regional power Vietnam, and even in their twin losses to Indonesia in the semifinals, the Azkals are gearing up for the AFF Challenge Cup on Feb. 9 and 16 against Mongolia with a home game, likely at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City, slated in one of those dates.
Another possibility is the World Cup qualifiers set near year’s end and the Southeast Asian Games on Nov. 11 in Palembang, Indonesia where an anticipated rematch looms.
Unlike in their semis duel with the Indonesians, the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City will be the home venue of the Nationals.
Another possibility is the World Cup qualifiers slated later next year and the Southeast Asian Games slated Nov. 11 in Palembang, Indonesia.
Unknown to many, the National booters haven't been in the biennial event since the country hosted it in Bacolod in 2005.
With the support of big companies, including Asia Brewery, the Nationals can expect of best training this time.
But there’s a hitch.
The ongoing leadership crisis in the Philippine Football Federation may hamper the team’s preparation.
While the ousted president Mari Martinez is still being recognized by the world governing body FIFA, majority of the PFF Board have elected Nonong Araneta as the new head.
Martinez is under fire due to some financial issues.
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