28 March 2011

Villaflor: PH deserves to host 2012 Challenge Cup

TOO much football never hurts, at least for us who watch the game from a safe distance.

I confirmed this last weekend when I had to monitor two important football events one after the other.

First was the 2nd All-Visayas Festival of Football for the Under-14 Girls and Under 13-Boys elite squads that also kicked off last Friday. The festival, which the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and the San Carlos City Negros FC organized, drew teams from the host city, Iloilo, Dumaguete and Cebu. The grassroots activity will also be made as basis for the national team selection for both age brackets. I will write more about the festival, which I was fortunate to witness, in my next column.

The second, of course, was last Friday’s do-or-die match and the Azkals’ convincing 3-0 win over Bangladesh, a perfect result for the team to barge into the AFC Challenge Cup 2012.

And this leads to the question: are the PFF officials interested in hosting the AFC Challenge Cup 2012? (The PFF eyed the 2012 Suzuki Cup, but hosting rights for the group stage have been awarded to Malaysia and Thailand.) If I’m not mistaken, with Group D still to be settled in the 2012 qualifiers, the venue for the Challenge Cup finals has yet to be determined.

According to an article published in a national broadsheet, PFF President Nonong Araneta is “working on” getting rights to host one of the group qualifying tournaments for the 2014 edition, which could be held in 2013.

Shouldn’t we bid first for the March 2012 Finals? Unless there’s an internal agreement within the AFC, hosting rights for 2012 apparently are still up in the air. “Only the eight qualified teams for the tournament proper can bid to host the Finals,” says a Wikipedia entry on the tournament’s page.

No stranger to hosting Challenge Cup matches, the Philippines is more than qualified.

Iloilo was home to the 2008 qualifiers, drawing an average of 5,000 spectators per game. Then there’s Bacolod’s hosting last February of the first-leg playoff for the 2010 edition. Not only did 20,000 spectators troop to Panaad Stadium, which complied with all requirements, fans were treated to a decent live coverage of the match. And you very well know what we missed in the Myanmar tournament, not to mention terrible attendance from the Burmese (only 1,500 spectators watched the home team’s last match, imagine that.)

AFC Challenge Cup Philippines 2012 sounds like a success even this early. But first, bid we must.

Sun Star Cebu

1 comment:

  1. YES - if still available - we should!