MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is not losing hope in its bid to host the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup finals in May, where the Azkals will be gunning for a ticket to the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
The country, which plans to stage the May 19 to 30 tournament at Rizal Memorial Stadium, emerged as an option behind the Maldives after the island nation in the Indian Ocean failed to start rehabilitation work in their venues late last year.
The AFC Competitions Committee, in fact, recommended the transfer of the event to the Philippines, before the Maldives made an assurance that the two proposed venues for the tournament will be completed before March.
The Philippine Sports Commission is installing a Fifa-approved all-weather grass at RMS, which the Philippine Football Federation hopes will be finished by February.
PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes said the AFC is closely monitoring the work being done at Rizal Memorial. “We still hope that we can host the Challenge Cup since it’s the most important tournament for the Azkals,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.
“Getting the home field advantage will enhance our chances of making the Asian Cup through the Challenge Cup.”
The Azkals, who finished last year at its highest position in the Fifa rankings at No. 127, will face Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Laos, Kyrgyzstan and Maldives in the Challenge Cup.