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Sports

Azkals face Maldives side in int’l friendly

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals will face off again with Maldives, an old rival from the defunct AFC Challenge Cup, when they play an international friendly on Sept. 3 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Philippine Football Federation (PFF) general secretary Edwin Gastanes yesterday announced the 8 p.m. encounter between the sides that previously clashed in a hard-fought semifinal match in the 2014 Challenge Cup in the Maldivian capital Male.

The Pinoy booters won that duel in extra time, 3-2, to advance to the finals where they eventually lost to Palestine, 0-1.

“Necessary authorizations from the Fifa and AFC are now being secured,” said Gastanes in confirming the friendly. He added that game ticket information will be announced on Monday.

The 175th-ranked Maldives filled in the need of the Azkals to have a tune-up match before they resume their bid in the Fifa World Cup qualifiers on Sept. 8 at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan.

The PFF earlier invited fellow Southeast Asians Thailand and Vietnam to a friendly but talks fell through.

Phl and Maldives have experienced contrasting starts in their respective WCQ groups with the Filipinos winning their first two assignments in Group H and the Maldivians losing theirs in Group C.

Now handled by Ismail Mahfooz following the dismissal of coach Velizar Popov, Maldives is also resuming its campaign in the World Cup qualifiers on Sept. 8 against China. The Maldivians are scheduled to host the game but the Football Association of Maldives has requested the Chinese to swap their matches due to damage in the field of Male’s National Stadium.

CHALLENGE CUP EDWIN GASTANES FIFA WORLD CUP FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF MALDIVES GROUP C GROUP H AND THE MALDIVIANS ISMAIL MAHFOOZ MALDIVES NATIONAL STADIUM PHILIPPINE AZKALS PHILIPPINE FOOTBALL FEDERATION
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