Filipino football fans have a reason to rejoice as the 2016 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup group stages shall be hosted by the Philippines for the very first time. After months of speculation, the Philippine Football Federation announced on their website last March 12, 2016 that the country was given the right to host the said tournament.
The group stage shall be held on November 19-26, 2016. Crucial to the AFF Council’s approval in Da Nang, Vietnman was the participation of the other stakeholders. The statement read, “PFF is thankful for the robust support of the Philippine Sports Commission and the meaningful cooperation of the Philippine Sports Stadium to help promote football especially to our nation’s youth.” The Philippine Sports Stadium is located at Bocaue, Bulacan and is owned by the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
No doubt the Philippine National Men’s Football Team, popularly known as the Azkals, would welcome the latest development. Ever since the 2010 miracle run in Hanoi, Vietnam, the Azkals have been eliminated at the semi-finals round for the past three editions of the tournament. Indonesia ended the magnificent Azkals’ run in 2010, while the same outcome happened in 2012 and 2014 at the hands of Singapore and Thailand respectively.
Aside from the Peace Cup and past editions of the South East Asian games, this is probably the biggest hosting of international football by the Philippines. “The hosting of this event is an opportunity and a challenge to PFF and all football stakeholders in the Philippines”, read the statement. The statement was signed by PFF General Secretary Ed Gastanes and President Mariano Araneta.
With just eight months to go before the tournament, expect football fever to reach high levels. It is also every stakeholders’ hope that the hosting of the tournament will help the sport grow in the Philippines where huge progress has been achieved these past few years.