Azkals to host Mongolia in Panaad
by rick olivares
After a highly successful 2010 Suzuki Cup stint where the Philippine National Men’s Football Team cracked the semifinals for the first time in the 14-year history of the tournament (only to be waylaid by Indonesia, the top goal-scoring team of the competition), the Azkals break for the holidays before returning to training mid-January for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup qualifiers in a home and away series with Mongolia that kicks off on February 9, 2011 in Panaad, Bacolod City.
“We have written Mongolia about the possibility of hosting the two matches in Panaad,” said Philippine Football Federation President Mariano V. Araneta. “It would be difficult to play in Mongolia at that time of the year because it’s the height of their winter season. We have sent them a letter of request and are waiting for their reply.”
The Azkals will also be competing in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers that begin by mid-next year and the year-ending Southeast Asian Games that will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia. The groupings for the World Cup qualifiers have yet to be determined by FIFA.
“We will be meeting with the national team management to discuss how we can help them and what needs to be done to bring the team to the next level,” added Araneta who was in Jakarta for the first match of the Suzuki Cup semifinals to lend some support. “Hopefully, what they achieved in Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia which is significantly raising awareness of the sport in the Philippines will continue to rise. We have shown that this is a sport where we can truly be competitive.”