The Philippine national men’s football team will take on lowly Guam in a friendly match in Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City on June 12.
The 148th-ranked Azkals were originally slated to play against China, the No. 66 team in the FIFA World Ranking, in an Independence Day showdown.
The plan, however, did not push through.
“They never confirmed,” Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta told News5 on Tuesday.
The Philippines and China are in the midst of a standoff over Scarborough Shoal, leading to increased tension between the two countries. But Araneta said that the political issue might not be related to the cancellation of the planned friendly match.
“I don’t think it’s about that,” he said.
The Azkals will now train their sights on Guam, ranked No. 194 in the world. Despite the lowly ranking, the Guamanians are expected to give a good fight, especially under English coach Gary White, a member of the United States national soccer team’s coaching staff.
The game will mark the triumphant return of the Philippine side to Panaad Stadium, the site of one of the Azkals’ most memorable victories. They last played in Bacolod City in February last year, in a 2-0 victory over Mongolia in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifier highlighted by Chieffy Caligdong’s sensational goal.
Apart from Guam, the PFF has also scheduled a friendly against Indonesia for the Azkals on June 5 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. – with a report from Francis Respicio, News5