Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Limpag: Will Azkals return to Cebu in 2017?

AS early as 2014, the Philippine Football Federation has been planning to have another friendly in Cebu featuring the men's national team as a third home game here would be a sure hit for the fans.

Unfortunately, the lack of a suitable venue has hampered that plan; Cebu's perennial problem.

Now, the PFF is planning to have Cebu or Bacolod host some of the home games of the AFC 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers, not just friendlies, and again the issue of a lack of suitable venue might mean Cebu gets left in the passing.

If you drop by the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) today, you'd see the biggest reason why CCSC isn't a suitable venue; because it is a suitable venue for other events.

There's a huge stage right in the middle of the sports center, a grass killer that will stay for more than a month and any field rehab will have to wait. CCSC had the best field this side of the country for the 2012 friendly against Singapore and two months later, CCSC had the most-expensive background for a stage at P2 million.

Yes, it cost that much to transform the dust bowl into a football field, complete with chess patterns and all but as usual, come December, the stage was put up anew because it's the Sinulog.

There really is no way around that issue, unless, somehow the city revisits the plan to hold the Sinulog at the South Road Properties, any field rehab plan for CCSC will have to account that every December, the field has to die, to be ressurected in February.

So, for Cebu to host one of the friendlies or home games, let's hope the Cebu Football Association or the Philippine Football Federation, will be crazy enough to spend millions for the grass rehab only to see those millions go down the drain come December.

We could all wish that somehow, any rehab done by a private group for the CCSC will be continued or preserved by the City Government, but that's just like wishing Mike Rama and Tomas Osmena would smoke the peace pipe for the good of the city, right?

Besides, if they can't even agree on something as basic and as necessary as garbage collection, what makes you think our public officials will waste time on an issue like keeping the grass green at the CCSC?

So, does that mean Cebu won't be hosting any Azkals matches next year? That long and short of it is we wait until February, when the grass killer is removed and see how much damage is done again.

HAPPY NINTH. Here's to Mark Justin Chong Concha, the son of Ivy and Mark of the Cebu Kaholeros, who turned nine yesterday. Enjoy your day.

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