Manila, Philippines - Preparations are in full swing for the Azkals’ home game against Sri Lanka on July 3 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, and yet there’s one thing organizers will definitely have no control of.
“It’s the weather,” said Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia, who’s making sure that the historic stadium will be in its top form for the highly-awaited soccer match.
“I hope the weather cooperates. Majority of the seats won’t be covered and people will get wet,” he said, considering that the match will be held in the rainiest days of the year.
The Philippine Football Federation under Mariano Araneta is at the helm of the preparations for the match expected to draw a crowd never been seen in local sports for a long time.
They expect a crowd of 15,000 to 20,000, mostly soccer fans who will even come in from the provinces. The last time a crowd that big came to the stadium was during the 1991 SEA Games.
If the rains fall during the match, only those seated in the VIP sections, where tickets cost as much as P3,000 each, will have a roof above their heads.
Garcia said they’re ready to host probably the biggest soccer match in the country.
The Azkals are now in Germany preparing their tie against the Sri Lankans, who will host the opening match on June 28.
“Everything else is covered. The plastic chairs are ready and the open bleachers have been painted. The field will be closed starting next week so the grass will grow greener,” said Garcia.
The restrooms, the PSC chief, have been refurbished and he said over 50 portable toilets will be in place.
The match will take place in the afternoon, at around 4 o’clock, but the other day workers were seen testing the lights at the stadium just in case a need arises.
“The Manila police is also mapping out its traffic plans along the main roads of Vito Cruz and Adriatico, and we have recommended just closing them, and let the people walk in,” said Garcia.
He said letting all the cars come in will only make it very difficult for traffic enforcers to control later on after the match.
“We are doing everything to make things run smoothly,” said Garcia.