Tuesday, 26 April 2011

PNoy, Pacquiao lead VIP list

Posted by chardyboy on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 0 comments

source: tempo.com.ph

The big guns of Philippine politics and sports may soon find themselves sitting side-by-side in a historic venue for a common objective: Support and cheer for the national football team.

MANILA, Philippines – Underscoring the significance of the country’s ambitious World Cup bid, Philippine Football Federation chief Mariano “Nonong” Araneta Jr. Monday said he plans to invite President Aquino and boxing superstar and Rep. Manny Pacquiao when the Philippine Azkals play their World Cup qualifying home match against Sri Lanka on July 3.

The first-round match is tentatively set at 3:30 p.m. at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, which is getting a facelift for the expected mammoth crowd that will troop to the 77-year-old venue.

“It will be more convenient for them to come since it will be held in Manila,” Araneta said. “I hope the President can find time from his hectic schedule.”

Aquino was also invited to watch the Azkals’ prequalifying AFC Challenge Cup duel against Mongolia on Feb. 9 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City, but he declined at the last minute due to a busy schedule.

Pacquiao, a self-confessed Azkals fan, could be available by the time of the football match since it would already be nearly a month after his scheduled ring bout with American Shane Mosley in Las Vegas.

Aside from the President and Pacquiao, Araneta said Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., the President’s uncle, Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia alongside Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Senators and Congressmen and the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Philippines will be some of the invitees.

Sri Lanka will host the first leg of the home-and-away series of the qualifier for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in Colombo on June 29. It will be the first time in 10 years the country will join the World Cup, said Azkals forward Yanti Barsales, who has been with the national team since 1991.

The last time was in 2001 when the Philippines hosted their home game against Laos at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City (formerly ULTRA).

The game ended in a 1-1 draw and the Philippines failed to advance into the next stage. The local team also played Syria and Oman in the group elims format, but lost.


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