By Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—It looks like the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila has the inside track in the selection for the site of the Philippines’ 2014 World Cup Qualifying first-round match against Sri Lanka on July 3.
Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said on Thursday there would be enough time to construct temporary air-conditioned dressing rooms and media rooms as part of the requirements of the Asian Football Confederation.
But Araneta clarified that any kind of work to be done in the stadium should have clearance from the Philippine Sports Commission, which has been managing the facility.
Araneta, who checked the facility together with national team manager Dan Palami, also said that the match could be played at 4 p.m., so that additional lights would not have to be installed in the stadium.
The stability of the seats and the benches in the stadium should also be checked to ensure the safety of football fans, Araneta said.
“We have to really check since it’s been awhile since the stadium was packed,” he added.
Araneta said officials of La Salle in charge of rehabilitating the pitch have promised that the field would be ready in time for the match.
The stadium, which can accommodate up to 30,000 people, played host to several international football matches. Teams from Spain and China have played in the stadium built in 1930.
Araneta said the open grandstand could accommodate twice more than the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City, which could also be a possible venue, having hosted the AFC Challenge Cup match against Mongolia last February.
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