Mid-March Musings

Mid-March Musings

PFF saves the day

The Philippine Football Federation has somewhat salvaged its goal in hosting the AFF Suzuki Cup, securing the primary venue — Philippine Sports Stadium — before the hosting was awarded to another AFF member.

It was previously reported by the ASEAN Football governing body that the Philippines were to withdraw as hosts, but the executives of the PFF dug deep and delivered in the nick of time. This is good news as the country is in serious need of a stimulant for football to return to its highs in 2011.

The situation also opens up the discussion about the need for a dedicated football stadium which would eliminate the sport’s dependence on private entities for infrastructure.

UFL Cup quarterfinal pairings set

The UFL Cup group stages are done and they produced explosive match-ups that will begin early next month. Stallion FC will face Green Archers United FC while Kaya FC will rekindle its rivalry with Loyola Meralco Sparks FC on the first day. Global FC will take on a revitalized JP Voltes FC and Ceres-La Salle FC will test Forza FC.

The UFL Cup knockout rounds will be a blitz as all the games will be completed in a span of seven days. It seems that the deepest team with the better bracket has the advantage but it’s worth noting that Kaya battled against the odds and secured the Cup last year.

Pinoy Clubs unbeaten in the AFC Cup this month

Ceres-La Salle and Kaya both came out unbeaten in all of their games in March in the AFC Cup. Ceres won away against Sheikh Jamal in Bangladesh and forced a draw against Tampines Rovers in Singapore. Meanwhile, Kaya scored twin 1-0 wins at home against New Radiant and Balestier Khalsa.

With the AFC Cup group stages in its halfway mark, both teams still have a lot of work to do to secure the points for an appearance on the next stage. What was proven though is that Pinoy clubs truly belong on the regional stage.

Lucena and Mulders retire from Azkals

Jerry Lucena and Paul Mulders have announced their retirement from international football, closing unforgettable national team careers for the two.

Paul was instrumental in the 2012 Challenge Cup. Jerry pushed the country to the 2014 Challenge Cup Final. Both will be sorely missed.

The onus is now on the national team management and coaching staff to select able replacements for the remaining World Cup qualifying games against tough Uzbekistan and DPR Korea.

World Cup qualifying coming to a close for Azkals

The Azkals are mathematically out of contention for the next round of 2018 World Cup qualifying but the remaining games are equally important for the 2022 edition. The 2018 format allows teams to play more games, a departure from the stepladder format that has been used in years past.

With the success of the recent format, the AFC will most likely re-use the same structure, forcing countries to improve their FIFA ranking before the start of qualifying in 2019. It is a must for the Azkals to get good results against Uzbekistan and DPR Korea as points earned in the tournament have greater weight overall.

Considering that this is a Suzuki Cup year with more A games to play, a lot is at stake for the Azkals if they are gunning for a better seed in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup. — CAL

Ivan Gayares is the brain behind The Perfect Pass. This Bacolodnon is a full-time IT Business Analyst and football fanatic, a part-time writer, and sometimes (free of charge) scout. He has a favorite team in the UFL.

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