Azkals to face Azerbaijan in friendly match in Dubai

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time since 1997, the Philippine National Football Team will face a European squad in Azerbaijan, positioned 94th in the FIFA Rankings, scheduled on March 5 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

This comes only four days after newly-installed coach Thomas Dooley’s debut game with the Azkals against Malaysia in their capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Ranked at an all-time high 127th, the Azkals are currently on top of the South East Asian region and will aim to win the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup happening on May in Maldives.

“We cannot let pass the invitation of Azerbaijan to a friendly match,” Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta said in a press statement released on Sunday, February 2. “It will be a good exposure for our national team and would help our preparations for the AFC Challenge Cup Maldives finals in May 2014.”

The Philippines, which is expected to be top-billed by a mix of Foreign-based footballers and local stars, will try to secure a ticket to the Asian Cup next year by winning it all in the Challenge Cup.

The last time the Philippines faced a UEFA squad was in a 1997 friendly in Manila where they lost 0-1 to Estonia. 

AFC recognizes PFF’s grassroots program

On a related note, the AFC recently gave PFF a recognition award for its efforts in developing the sport’s grassroots program, a separate press release by the PFF stated.

The PFF will receive US$50,000 from the AFC as additional support in sustaining the grassroots development all over the country. 

AFC commended PFF’s proactive campaign in organizing football festivals, courses, and promotional activities among its member organizations.

“We are very grateful to AFC for this award. The grassroots program is the centerpieve of our football agenda,” Araneta said.

“The additional support that AFC is providing us will go a long way in our grassroots development efforts.” 

The PFF is gearing up to capitalize on the estimated 14 million school children in public schools nationwide in its aspiration of promoting football to the grassroots. -