Philippines keeps Suzuki Cup hosting rights: official

HOME SWEET HOME. The Azkals may continue playing AFC Suzuki Cup games on their home field. File photo from AFF Suzuki Cup's Twitter

HOME SWEET HOME. The Azkals may continue playing AFC Suzuki Cup games on their home field.

File photo from AFF Suzuki Cup's Twitter

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has retained the rights to host the 2016 Suzuki Cup after it agreed to move the venue to a sprawling new stadium, the local football federation said Saturday.

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) had initially offered the ageing Rizal Memorial Stadium in downtown Manila for the biennial tournament between Southeast Asian nations, but its 15,000 seating capacity fell short of organizers' standards.

At a meeting with Asian Football Federation Council in Da Nang, Vietnam this week, the PFF offered the 20,000-seater Philippine Sports Stadium, a brand new venue in the capital's outskirts and the proposal was approved, PFF general secretary Edwin Gastanes said.

"The hosting of this event is an opportunity and a challenge to PFF and all football stakeholders in the Philippines," Gastanes told AFP.

While the Philippine Sports Stadium will be the primary venue for the Suzuki Cup Group Stage on November 19 to 26, some matches will be played in the smaller venue, he said.

Opened in 2014, the Philippine Sports Stadium is located inside a sprawling entertainment complex run by members of a local Christian sect. The adjacent Philippine Arena hosted Katy Perry's "Prismatic" tour last year.

Thailand won their fourth Southeast Asian title during the last Suzuki Cup in 2014. – Rappler.com