In a sudden turn of events, the Philippine Football Federation announced that the friendly betweem the Philippine Men’s National Football Team (Azkals) and Turkmenistan has been cancelled. The said friendly was scheduled to take place on September 2, 2016 (Friday) at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.
A letter was signed by PFF General Secretary Atty. Ed Gastanes publicizing the situation. It stated that the Football Federation of Turkmenistan notified the PFF that most of their players sustained injuries from competing in the recent Turkmenistan Championship and Turkmenistan Cup matches.
This incident isn’t only a blow to Filipino football fans, but also the Azkals squad itself which has seen its preparations for the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup disrupted by things which aren’t in their control. The PFF stated that fans who have purchased tickets will be given refunds as instructions have already been relayed for this.
Despite the game’s cancellation, the Azkals still have one more game to prepare for in the incoming FIFA international friendly window. They travel to the Kyrgyz Republic on September 3, 2016 to compete against the aforementioned country’s national team in Bishkek three days later. After that game, the Azkals will play against Bahrain this October.
With the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup to kickoff in the middle of November, the Azkals are up against time in order to prepare competitively for the competition. As of this moment, Azkals coach Thomas Dooley will now have to make do with only two friendly games before the big competition. Whether or not the Azkals can have a glorious campaign on home soil with only two friendly games played remains to be see.