Despite the Philippines’ overwhelming 4-1 victory over Nepal on Tuesday, coach Thomas Dooley criticized Manileños’ lack of support at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
When the popularity of the Azkals broke out in December 2010 after their historic miracle victory over Vietnam. The Filipino fans started to flock the stadiums in droves in 2011. The Rizal Memorial Stadium was practically filled to the brim every home game.
Then in the last few years, the fans have diminished. Only the diehard ones keep coming back to watch the national football team. But these diehard fans are a rarity in a basketball country.
In their last match against Nepal, it had 1,700 attendees in a 12,000 capacity stadium. In the friendly game against Malaysia there were only 1,300 spectators.
In last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup, the venue was in Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan that could fill 20,000 fans. But the average turnout in an Azkals match was a paltry 4,000.
Because of the lack of attendance in Manila, the PFF already had plans of playing the home games in the Visayas in even as early as 2014.
Based on Dooley’s statement, it looks like the future fixtures of the Azkals would be a regular event in Bacolod and Cebu. The way he wrote it, it appears certain.
“Leaving century Hotel after a great game 4:1 victory. It was our last game in Manila.. it’s sad, but we just don’t get the support we need. Future games will be played in Bacolod and Cebu. We will have much more support and minimum of 10000 fans. Good bye Rizal for now.”
I don’t have any recent information regarding Bacolod’s preparedness in hosting international football games, but we all know that they have done many successful games in the past, including just last week, the AFC Cup match between Ceres FC and Felda United at Panaad Park Stadium.
I hope the Cebuanos can iron out their differences, because Cebu is more accessible than Bacolod, although the latter has some of the most passionate football fans.