NAYPYITAW—The Philippines has been awarded the hosting rights of one of the final group stages of the prestigious Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup in 2016, marking another milestone for the sport in the country.
The AFF made the decision Saturday during its regular Council Meeting attended by Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta and PFF general secretary Edwin Gastanes here.
“We have been awarded the hosting rights for the 2016 Suzuki Cup,” Gastanes told the Inquirer. “We will be hosting the Suzuki Cup together with Burma (Myanmar).”
The Philippines managed to host only one match of the regional football showpiece last year when the Azkals advanced to the home-and-away semifinals.
The Suzuki Cup semifinal game against Singapore was played at Rizal Memorial Stadium, which is currently undergoing renovation that includes the installation of a Fifa-standard artificial pitch.
The PFF is eyeing the RMS as a possible venue for the Suzuki Cup, along with the soon-to-be-completed Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
“It’s a big honor for us in the PFF to get the hosting,” said Araneta. “We will leave no stone unturned to make sure that we will have a successful hosting.”
The Philippines is also in the running to host the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in May after the AFC raised doubts over Maldives’ capability to stage the event because of the state of its playing venues.
The AFC has already inspected the RMS, even as the confederation set a December deadline for work to start on the venues in the Maldives.
“We just have to be ready,” said Gastanes, who expressed hope that the RMS will be finished a couple of months before the staging of the Challenge Cup in the event that the AFC awards the hosting job to the country.
The Azkals finished the year on an all-time high Fifa ranking of No. 127, owing to the run of good results the past two years and Araneta said hosting tournaments in the country can only help in boosting the status of the team and the development of the sport in the country.
“The hosting really goes a long way in our efforts to promote the game in the country,” said Araneta.