Azkals take on region's best in charity match
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals – Southeast Asia’s top dogs – will pit skills against an assembly of the region’s finest players in a charity match organized by the Asean Football Federation (AFF) in a still-to-be-determined date in Bacolod City.
“The Asean Football Federation (AFF) Council decided to organize an Asean All-Stars Charity Football Match to help raise funds in the wake of the typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) which struck the Philippines recently,” the federation announced after the council meeting in Nay pyi taw Saturday.
According to the AFF, the fund-raiser will feature the Azkals, who reached new heights by placing 127th in the International Football Federation world rankings – an all-time high for the nation and tops in SEA – against the Asean All Stars.
Expected to banner the Asean squad are members of the AFF Best XI who were named in last April’s AFF awards, including Player of the Year Ishak Sharil of Singapore, Teerasil Dangda of Thailand, and Kyi Lin of Myanmar.
The match against the Asean All-Stars will likely kick off the Pinoy booters’ preparations for the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup, a qualifying tourney for the 2015 Asian Cup.
The AFF has been lending a helping hand to the Philippines every time there’s a calamity.
Previously, the federation contributed to an “adopt-a-school” program in the country following Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) that hit Mindanao, covering the construction cost for four elementary schools in the municipalities of Laak and Montevista in Compostela Valley.
The charity match was hatched in the same meeting where the AFF awarded the Philippine Football Federation the hosting rights for one of the final group stages in the 2016 Suzuki Cup. Myanmar will host the other group stage.
This will be the first time for Phl to host a final group competition in the biennial bootfest. The Rizal Memorial Stadium, which is undergoing renovation and installation of Fifa-grade artificial turf, and the soon-to-be-completed Philippine Arena of Iglesia ni Cristo in Bulacan are being eyed as possible venues.
“It will be a huge and historic event for Phl football. AFF Suzuki Cup is the most prestigious tournament in the ASEAN region, with millions of TV audience. It would help further promote football in the country,” PFF general-secretary Ed Gastanes said.