No first game for Azkals as Brunei pulls out
MANILA, Philippines – Despite Brunei Darussalam’s last-minute withdrawal from the AFC Challenge Cup Group E Qualifiers, Philippine Football Federation General Secretary Atty. Ed Gastanes confirmed that the matches will still push through starting Friday, March 22.
In the pre-tournament press conference, Gastanes bared that the National Football Association of Brunei wrote the Asian Football Confederation of their pulling out of the 4-nation qualifying stage, citing “unavoidable circumstances” for the shocking move.
Brunei’s sudden backout leaves the three remaining nations -- Turkmenistan, Cambodia, and the Philippines -- battle for the two possible tickets to the main tourney in Maldives.
“We are reduced to a three-nation tournament. There will only be three matches instead of six. The second placed teams will still be decided by the AFC Competitions Committee,” Gastanes told members of the press with the opening day tomorrow looming.
With that, the opening game for the Philippines against Brunei will not push through but the Turkmenistan-Cambodia match will still be played 4:00 PM at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
Brunei could be in trouble
According to AFC ruling, Brunei could be facing not only fines, but suspensions and further disciplinary actions after their sudden pullout of the said tournament.
Gastanes revealed that he also received personal calls from his NFAB counterpart but received the same “unavoidable cirumstances” reason and asked for understanding.
Reports of Brunei’s pullout circulated first in the internet on Wednesday and instantly drew flak from the fans in Manila expecting a good showing for the hosts against the 186th ranked nation in the Fifa World Rankings in the opening day.
Philippines head coach Hans Michael Weiss, meanwhile, hinted his dismay to their Southeast Asian neighbor saying that he “finds it difficult to understand how a serious football nation can back out before the tournament starts.”
Tickets: No refunds yet
With the first game for the Azkals in the tournament cancelled on opening day, PFF President Nonong Araneta, through an official statement, assured ticketholders that they have requested TicketWorld to refund the unused tickets for March 23.
TicketWorld is yet to respond to PFF request as of posting time.
Ticket prices for the games range from P100 to P2700 depending on the section and the match day. - Rappler.com