MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has a strong chance of hosting the final stage of the 2014 Challenge Cup.
Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said the Philippines, along with three other countries, have already submitted bids to host the biennial event.
“Apat tayong nagbi-bid, Maldives, India, Tajikistan and Philippines,” said Araneta.
If the Philippines wins the bid, the Azkals will no longer have to go through the tournament group stage which begins next year.
“Kapag Philippines ang magho-host, wala na tayo sa group stage, automatic na tayo sa eight finalists. That means puro preparations lang tayo sa 2013 at sa 2014 na tayo maglalaro,” said Araneta.
Araneta believes the Philippines has a strong chance of hosting the event due to the strategic location of the country’s football venues.
He said local football stadiums are located near hotels, making the venues more accessible to the visiting players.
“So far sinabi ng mga inspectors na medyo OK naman ang chance natin, they've seen Rizal [Memorial Stadium in Manila] and Panaad [Stadium in Bacolod], they also seen the hotels in Bacolod and Manila.”
Araneta added that the strong crowd support for football also makes the Philippines an attractive location for the 2014 Cup.
“Ang crowd dito, mas maraming nanonood, mas madaling magpuno ng stadium,” said Araneta.
The Philippine Azkals had a breakout performance in the 2012 Challenge Cup, where they defeated former titlists Tajikistan, India before overcoming Palestine for the bronze medal.
The 2012 edition of the Cup was hosted by Nepal.