KO format adopted in Peace Cup meet

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) yesterday turned the format of the four-team Peace Cup into a knockout-style tournament due to a new regulation imposed recently by the International Football Federation (FIFA).

PFF said in a statement that the change was made after FIFA reminded all participating teams to follow a rule that allows teams to play a maximum of two matches during the international window or dates where clubs are required to release their players for national team duty.

The FIFA advisory forced the PFF to turn the Peace Cup opener on Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium into do-or-die matches.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup winner Palestine takes on Myanmar in the first game at 4 p.m. before the Azkals face Taiwan at 7 p.m. The winner of both games will meet in the final on Sept. 6, after the losing teams play in a battle for third place.

“Due to FIFA Advisory received on 28 August 2014, all participating teams are expected to comply with the new regulations on two-match per international window,” the PFF said. “PFF has thus revised the competition format to allot a maximum of two matches per representative team during the period of 01-09 September 2014.”

PFF General Secretary Ed Gastanes explained that the federation sought for an exception since the new regulation became effective last Aug. 1, only to be turned down by FIFA.

“We asked for a special dispensation only for the purpose of the Peace Cup tournament because we already sent invitations before the new regulation was approved,” Gastanes said.  “We tried to convince FIFA but it was denied, so were compelled to observe the new regulation.”

The Peace Cup was supposed to be a single-round tourney with the team having the most number of points after three games emerging as champion.

The Azkals are seeking to win the Peace Cup for the third straight time but face strong opposition from this year’s participants.

— Jonas Terrado