FOUR home games, possibly in a new grass venue in Bocaue, Bulacan next year, will give the Philippines a better chance of making it to the qualifying competitions of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said this yesterday following the conclusion of an executive council meeting of the Asian Football Confederation last weekend at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati.
During the meeting, AFC officials, led by AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa met with FIFA president Joseph Blatter and discussed the expansion of the final stage of the Asian zone qualification for the FIFA World Cup.
Araneta said a new format has been discussed and set, with the Philippines placed in the Southeast Asia Zone of the East bracket.
He said there will be eight group stages with five teams, designed to add depth to the field of competitors.
“With the new format, eight group winners and four second best teams from the eight groups will qualify for our final round of qualifications,” said Araneta.
Before the new format was approved, only 10 teams battled it out in the final round of World Cup qualifiers. This time, there will be 12 teams getting a chance to make it to the qualifiers in 2016.