By Olmin Leyba
MANILA, Philippines - After calling the new Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan as their home, the Philippine Azkals will return to the decades-old Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila for their next home assignment in the Fifa World Cup qualifiers on Nov. 12 against Yemen.
“We have requested for a change in venue from the PSS to the RMS and it was approved by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which is the body supervising the World Cup qualifiers in Asia,” Philippine Football Federation general-secretary Edwin Gastanes told The STAR.
“We did this for the purpose of making it easier for football spectators to watch the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers home match,” he added.
The 20,000-seater PSS hosted two games for the Azkals in Group H of the qualifiers The Pinoy booters split their assignments in the Bulacan venue, upstaging Bahrain, 2-1, in the opener last June 11, then bowing to Uzbekistan, 1-5, last Sept. 8.
But before they battle Yemen on the artificial turf of Rizal, the Azkals will first tackle North Korea in Pyongyang on Oct. 8 and Bahrain in Manama on Oct. 13.
Gastanes said coach Thomas Dooley has already started preparing Manila-based players and they expect the rest of the stalwarts to be in by Oct. 3.
The team will leave for Beijing on Oct. 4 then take a flight to the North Korean capital the next day.
Meanwhile, the PFF has called up 22 players for the North Korea outing, headed by captain Phil Younghusband, Neil Etheridge, Stephan Schrock, Jerry Lucena, Daisuke Sato, and Rob Gier, who’s returning from injury.
Also called for duty are Amani Aguinaldo, Misagh Bahadoran, Paolo Bugas, Kenshiro Daniels, Patrick Deyto, Kevin Ingreso, Paul Mulders, Roland Muller, Manny Ott, Stephan Palla, OJ Porteria, Iain Ramsay, Patrick Reichelt, Martin Steuble, Dennis Villanueva, and Luke Woodland.
Striker Javier Patino was not in the pool, though.