PH nails hosting of ‘Challenge’ qualifier

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02:53 AM December 1st, 2012

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By: Cedelf P. Tupas, December 1st, 2012 02:53 AM

BANGKOK—Beaten by the Maldives in the hosting of the AFC Challenge Cup final tournament in 2014, the Philippines will be given the next best thing with the hosting of one of the group qualifying tournaments next year.

This was the assurance given to Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta by the Asian Football Confederation, after the PFF head honcho attended AFC meetings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia early this week.

Araneta, who arrived Friday just before the national side was to face Myanmar in its final group match in the AFF Suzuki Cup, said the PFF is eyeing the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila as the venue for the qualifying tournament.

“They (AFC) said we can host one qualifier,” Araneta said. “Most probably it will be in Manila because other teams will find it easier to travel there.”

But while the qualifying tournament is slated in March, Araneta had hinted that they might try to stage it in late May when the European football season is over, making the foreign-based players available for national team duty.

Araneta said he will seek clarification on the decision to award the Maldives the hosting of the tournament that stakes a slot to the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia for the champion.

Although he rued the missed chance of an outright slot to the tournament because the PFF lost the hosting bid, Azkals manager Dan Palami welcomed the challenge to go through qualification.

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get the hosting of the final round of the Challenge Cup, but it doesn’t matter if we have to go through the qualifier then we are prepared to go through that,” Palami said.

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