By Francis Santiago
The Azkals will finally have the chance to strut their wares before Metro Manila fans after the Philippine Football Federation announced that the July 3 World Cup qualifying match against Sri Lanka will be held at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
PFF chief Mariano “Nonong” Araneta Jr. made it official Thursday, marking the first time that the 77-year-old venue to stage an international football competition since the 1991 Southeast Asian Games.
“It’s Rizal Memorial Stadium,” Araneta said before holding a meeting with Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia.
The Rizal Memorial Stadium, which can accommodate 15,000 to 20,000 spectators, beat out Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City which was also hoping to host venue.
The decision to pick the Manila venue was helped in some way by the promise of huge support from San Miguel Corporation which will finance the refurbishment of some areas, including the pitch, score board and locker rooms.
“It’s also more convenient for many to stage the qualifier in the capital,” Araneta said.
The Department of Public Works and Highways has also given the PFF the green light to stage the event at Rizal Memorial, quashing earlier reports that the venue is not safe for the public.
“As early as February, the PSC has already secured a certificate that says Rizal is safe for events,” said Araneta, noting that repairs will start in the next few weeks.
The PFF projects earning as much as P6 million from gate receipts of the game.
Sri Lanka will host the first game of the home-and-away series in Colombo on June 29.
Meanwhile, team manager Dan Palami said three potential Fil-foreign recruits – Fil-Spanish Juan Luis Guirado and Fil-Canadian brothers Jonathan and Julian de Guzman, won’t be able to join the Azkals in the qualifiers because of different commitments. Source