Thursday , May 24, 2018

Limpag: Rizal hosts PH football’s biggest game

BACOLOD will no longer host the final Asian Cup qualifiers of the Philippines as the Philippine Football Federation has requested that it be moved to the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Philippines, which leads Group F with nine points, will be taking on dangerous Tajikistan, which is third with seven points.

Only Nepal has been eliminated but that didn’t stop the Nepalese from foiling the Azkals last year with a scoreless draw at home, putting the pressure back on the Philippines in its final game.

It would have been good to qualify with a match to spare but that’s wishful thinking. Beside, we still have a solid chance of making it to the continental tournament for the first time.

Manila recently lost two football clubs; FC Meralco Manila, which calls Rizal its home, and Kaya Makati, which is moving to Iloilo City. I just hope that the fans in Manila will come in droves for the most crucial match in our football history.

The last time we were one match close to an Asian Cup spot was when we made the final of the Challenge Cup but lost to eventual champion Palestine. That one was staged in Maldives but like in any other parts of the world, that final had more than a handful of Filipinos—OFWS mostly—in the crowd.

I hope the Manila match will have more than a handful in the stands. It’s good that the PFF has announced the change of venue early so folks can plan early for the crucial match.

BUSY MONTH. Cebu football opens its new season next month (although the 2017 Aboitiz Cup is still ongoing) with two major festivals, the Sinulog Cup and the Thirsty Cup.

Now on its eighth year, the Sinulog Cup is the first festival of the year and is organized by the Cebu Football Association. It will be played at the Cebu City Sports Center on Feb.3 and 4. The Thirsty Cup, the city’s longest-running football festival and the one that started it all, will be played at the same venue two weeks later.

They basically have the same divisions, from the U7 all the way to the 45-Above. I just have one concern though. Since this will be played days after that grand stage for the Sinulog will be dismantled, I hope they’d go through the field with a metal detector.

In March last year, two months after the Sinulog, a stage remnant injured a player and that’s after the organizers went through the field with a metal detector.

You can’t be too careful, especially with kids as young as 6 playing in the tournament.