MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Football Federation is eyeing Bahrain and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as possible locations for the Philippine Azkals’ training camp in preparation for the AFC Challenge Cup in March.
PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta Friday said that Bahrain has expressed interest to host the national side in its buildup for the eight-nation Challenge Cup in Nepal.
Araneta said that the offer from Bahrain includes free accommodations aside from arranging friendly matches for the Azkals.
The Azkals also held camp in Bahrain last July and gained a huge following in the oil-rich nation as they toughened up for their World Cup Qualifying second round match against Kuwait.
“We could save money if we hold camp in Bahrain,” said Araneta, noting that a camp in Dubai would cost about P2.5 million.
Azkals team manager Dan Palami said the planned 10-day camp is scheduled on the second week of February.
The Azkals will play Malaysia in a friendly on Feb. 29 at Rizal Memorial Stadium, before flying to Kathmandu for the Challenge Cup, where they will face North Korea, Tajikistan and India.
Several members of the national side will be back in action as early as Jan. 7 when the Azkals along with stars of the United Football League battle Spanish fourth division team Internacionale de Madrid in a charity match dubbed “Dili kamo nag-iisa” that will benefit victims of Typhoon Sendong in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Araneta said work on the FIFA project to transform the PhilSports pitch into an all-weather artificial turf will begin in March.
The PFF head, who met with FIFA consultant Marcus Keller recently regarding the project, said the pitch should be ready by June.
“The pitch in Ultra is very important as we won’t have to use the Rizal Memorial Stadium all the time for national team practices,” said Araneta.
The Philsports pitch will be used for training by national teams as well as for competitions like, the United Football League, the NCAA and the UAAP.
“With an all-weather turf, there won’t be any postponements just because of an unplayable field,” said Araneta.