Impressed by turnout, PFF sends Azkals back to Panaad
by Cedelf P. Tupas
BACOLOD CITY—The Philippine Azkals will return to their old home turf in September.
Impressed with the turnout and the festive atmosphere during Ceres-Negros AFC Cup match at Panaad Stadium Tuesday night, Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta announced the Azkals would be playing their last two home matches in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifying here.
The Azkals will play their first home match of the qualifying tournament on March 28 against Nepal at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila since Araneta said it was already too late to put the game at Panaad.
Araneta, who watched Ceres’ 5-0 demolition of Tampines Rovers of Singapore in the AFC Cup, said the Azkals would be in Panaad for their home match against Yemen on Sept. 5 as well as the game against Tajikistan on March 27 next year.
“We’re really happy with what we saw here in Bacolod,” said Araneta.
The Ceres-Tampines clash drew a sellout crowd of close to 10,000 that evoked memories of the Azkals match against Mongolia in 2011. And with most of the players of the national side also part of Ceres’ squad, Araneta said luring fans to the game would not be a problem.
“We just want the fans to come and support the national team and while we’ve tried other places like Bulacan and Manila, we’ve seen tremendous support from the fans in Bacolod,” said Araneta.