Guam “Matao” Back in PI for Azkal Re-Match

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Guam – The Matao’s return to the Philippines to play in a soccer tournament that will include a re-match against the Azkals, will not include a flight to Bacolod as originally planned.

The Philippines Football Federation recently issued a news release announcing that the venue for the Paulino Alcantara Peace Cup, formerly the Long Teng Cup, has been shifted from Panaad Stadium in Bacolod to Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. Dates for tournament games – Sept. 25, 27 and 29, have not changed.

“We’re very grateful to have been invited to play in the tournament,” said Matao assistant coach Jimmy Okuhama. “Although the original venue has changed, we’re still going to focus the same way we have been during training sessions.

“We met some great fans in Bacolod the last time we played there, and we hope that they’ll be able to come and join the fans in Manila to watch the games. We also hope our fans here in Guam can attend, too,” Okuhama added.

Rizal Memorial Stadium has a seating capacity of about 13,000 after its most recent renovation in 2011 to meet FIFA seat measurement regulations, as reported by several Philippines media.

During the Matao’s training trip in June, the team had the opportunity to play two matches at Rizal Memorial Stadium against Global FC and the Penson Stallion FC Gilligan’s, both professional teams in the Philippines’ United Football League (UFL). Global FC finished the most recent UFL season as champions, while the Penson Stallion FC Gilligan’s, which played its maiden season in Division I, finished in a respectable fourth-place spot, the UFL Web site states.

The Matao last played in Panaad Stadium in Bacolod against the Azkals June 12 in a FIFA-friendly match. Although the Guam team kept the Azkals scoreless in the second half, its opponents were able to score three goals in the first half.

The decision to move tournament games to Rizal Memorial Stadium was based on logistics and resources, as well as the suspension of renovations at the Manila stadium, according to the PFF news release.

“All our resources are in Manila,” said PFF Communications Marketing Head Richard “Ebong” Joson, in the news release. “Now that Rizal Memorial Stadium became available, holding the event (in Manila) will enable us to organize the games more efficiently for all the teams who will be arriving to participate in the tournament.”

The Matao will join the Azkals and national teams from Chinese Taipei and Macau in the single round robin tournament. As of Sept. 2, the Azkals are the highest FIFA-ranked national team in the tournament at No. 150 in the world. Chinese Taipei is next at No. 175, while Guam, after moving up 10 spots, currently sits at No. 184. Macau is ranked No. 201 in the world out of 209 FIFA-member nations, the FIFA Web site states.