PFF ready to face challenges of hosting AFF Suzuki Cup

ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 15, 2016 06:18 PM
PFF ready to face challenges of hosting AFF Suzuki Cup
“The coming months will be tough for the PFF, but what we’re doing is very important for football development. The cost is only secondary as it (the hosting) will be privately-funded.” -- PFF General-Secretary Ed Gastanes
THE Philippine Football Federation (PFF) will leave no stone unturned as it prepares to host the most prestigious football tournament in the region for the first time late this year. 
 
The country will stage one of the two groups in the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup from Nov. 19 to 26 at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan and the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. 
 
“It’s a big challenge and an opportunity for all football stakeholders in the country,” said PFF general-secretary Ed Gastanes at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate on Tuesday
 
“The coming months will be tough for the PFF, but what we’re doing is very important for football development. The cost is only secondary as it (the hosting) will be privately-funded.”
 
The three other countries that will join the Philippines in the group as well as the other bracket that will play in Myanmar will be known in the official draw on Aug. 2
 
Only the top two teams from the group qualify to the semifinals - a stage the Azkals have reached the past three tournaments starting with Vietnam in 2010. 
 
Six teams, including defending champion Thailand, are already in the main draw of the tournament with two more squads entering the group stage via a qualifying tournament in Cambodia in October. 
 
Gastanes said the country has enough experience in hosting the prestigious meet, with the Azkals already hosting three home matches in the Asian World Cup Qualifying since last year. The PFF also staged the four-nation Peace Cup in the past three years. 
 
The PFF official said the federation will also address concerns over transportation and make it convenient for fans to watch the games at PSS. 
 
“We will leave no stone unturned in convincing our fans to watch our matches live,” said Gastanes in the sessions presented by San Miguel Corp., Accel, Shakey’s, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. “We will pull out all the stops, from marketing and publicity and also seek the help of Local Government Units to be able to fill the stadium.”
 
The AFF allowed the Philippines to keep its right to host the Suzuki Cup last Saturday after the PFF secured a stadium use contract with the management of the 25,000-seater PSS. Rizal Memorial Stadium was nominated as the secondary venue, hosting one match on the final day of the group stage when two games are held simultaneously. 
 
And while the PSS falls just short of the 30,000-capacity requirement for stadiums hosting the Suzuki Cup, Gastanes said the PFF got an exemption since the Philippines is just a growing football country. 
 
“The AFF gave us an exception because they know that football is growing here,” said Gastanes. “The Suzuki Cup is the most watched football event in the region. Teams will have their own fans traveling with them. It will also help generate economic activity.”

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