The Philippine Football Federation changed the venue of the inaugural Paulino Alcantara Peace Cup, a tournament that will pit Philippine national men’s football team against Chinese Taipei, Macau and Guam in September.
Initially slated at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City, the four-nation meet will instead be played at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. The tournament hailed from the annual Long Teng Cup, which officials from Chinese Taipei, hosts of the tournament’s last two editions, decided not to organize.
“It is logistically more feasible for the PFF to hold it in Manila,” PFF President Mariano Araneta said in a press conference at the PFF office in Pasig.
The change of venue came as a surprise, as the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium was initially planned to be renovated from August to September, which made the PFF choose Bacolod City first as the host. However, the project, funded by FIFA which will turn the football field in Rizal Stadium into an artificial turf, didn’t push through.
Araneta added that conducting the tournament in Manila will lessen the expenses of the PFF in the event, which is estimated at P6 million.
“We can get more support from the private sector here in Manila,” Araneta said.
The Azkals will face Guam on September 25, Macau on September 27, and Chinese Taipei on September 29 in a round-robin format. The team with the best record wins the tournament.
With the two-time Long Teng Cup champion Hong Kong not playing in the tournament, Araneta picked Chinese Taipei as the biggest hurdle the Azkals will face to win the crown.
Currently ranked 175th in the world, Chinese Taipei forced the Filipinos to draws in the past two editions of the Long Teng Cup.
However, Araneta believes that the result may change now that the Azkals will play in their home turf.
“It might be different if we play them here,” Araneta said.
Meanwhile, fans who have already booked flights to Bacolod will be able to get free tickets in the games by sending proofs of the purchase of the plane tickets to the PFF.
The Azkals will be using the tournament to prepare for the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup in November, in which they look to surpass their historic semifinal run two years ago.
The Paulino Alcantara Peace Cup is named after the Filipino-Spanish mestizo who starred for FC Barcelona over a century ago.