With the 2016 edition of the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup (AFF Cup) set to be held in the Philippines, football fever is in the air again, much of it centering around national team, the Azkals. Held once every two years, this marks the first time that the Philippines will serve as host the tournament, largely recognized as being Southeast Asia’s most prestigious.
According to an interview with Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano Araneta Jr.,“Our hosting the Suzuki Cup is very important because we will be playing in front of our own fans.”
In addition to being the defending champion and FIBA’s highest-rated country in the region, Thailand was responsible for eliminating the Azklas from the AFF Semis two years ago. This year, Thailand, along with the Philippines, is part of the AFF’s Group A, nicknamed, the “Group of Death”, as it also includes four-time winner Singapore, and four-time runners-up Indonesia.
“We are very hopeful that we can top the group and avoid meeting Thailand in the semifinals,” said Araneta.
Currently, many of the Azkals’ players are taking part in the United Football League, and would be assembling under Coach Thomas Dooley for training under a special arrangement.
The venues for the AFF Cup event will be the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan, and the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. All of Group A’s matches will be played in the Philippines, and the two top-placed teams of Groups A and B will move on to the semis.
As our local booters gear up to bring about a new golden age of Filipino football, we will stand by our team, and cheer for them, every step of the way.