THE Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Sunday made the initial step in its backup plan to award the Philippines the hosting right of the Challenge Cup as it inspected possible venues in Manila for the prestigious tournament next year.
The country was suddenly in the frame to host the qualifier for the Asian Cup after the AFC gave host Maldives the ultimatum to start required renovation work on its venues until the middle of this month.
With the development, AFC deputy general secretary Windsor John paid a visit to the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila and Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Rizal, currently undergoing renovation from natural grass to artificial turf, is being offered as the official venue, with Emperador, which already has an artificial turf, as training venue.
PFF competitions committee chairman Cyril Dofitas accompanied John to the venues on Sunday, saying the AFC representative was satisfied with Emperador.
“Sabi niya this will pass as a practice pitch,” Dofitas told Spin.ph over the phone. “Kasi ang kulang natin in every competition sa international matches ay practice pitches. We don’t have a problem with the official venue.”
While Rizal’s artificial pitch will be up to standards once finished, Dofitas, however, noted the historic venue’s facilities, including the dressing rooms, must undergo renovation.
“Ang daming kailangan natin i-improve. AFC has criteria and standards for hosting so eventually we are waiting for the report kung ano yung evaluation nila sa mga facilities natin that we are qualified to host.”
“It’s only an inspection so there is no final decision that we’re going to host,” Dofitas stressed.
Dofitas, who also recommended BGC turf and that of Far Eastern University-Diliman as alternates training sites, said the tournament can be played in either natural grass or artificial, but if the official venue being offered is artificial, then the training pitch must also be the same.
“Yung provision for all the training pitches must also be artificial para yung mga teams would be familiar with the turf.”