Azkals set to play more home games in World Cup Qualifiers
Santino Honasan on Jan 09, 2015 02:17 PM
Filipino football fans will have more chances to see their Azkals play at home in the World Cup Qualifiers
Some good news for Pinoy football fans. The Azkals are set to play four games on home soil during the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, according to Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Mariano Araneta.
This is an improvement from the previous qualifiers that the Philippines competed in, where the Azkals only played two home games, one againt Mongolia, and the other against Kuwait, who ultimately ended the Azkals’ bid for an opportunity in the 2014 World Cup.
This development is due to the new groupings that FIFA put in place, which will feature 40 teams scattered across eight groupings (Group A – Group H) in the group stages. The five teams in each group will play a round-robin format, which guarantees that the Philippine Azkals will be playing at least eight home and away games.
“The more games that we play, the better for our team, diba? Kasi before baka sa first round, tanggal ka na eh. Wala ka na, two games pa lang. Now it's guaranteed, eight games, and then, ang kukunin is the top of each group, eight winners plus the four best second-placers. That will be determined by goal difference. Then these 12 teams will be divided into two groups of six, home and away na naman yan.” Araneta said during an interview with ABS-CBN Sports + Action’s The Score.
“If we qualify in the top-12 teams of Asia, then we’re guaranteed so many games.” Araneta added
Aside from advancing in the World Cup Qualifiers, the top-12 teams are also granted automatic qualification into the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
The group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers are expected to begin in June of 2015 and will continue until March of 2016.
Playing at home will definitely be a plus for the Azkals, as they get to represent their nation’s colors in front of their kababayan supporters.