Originally published by Malaya Business Insight Online
THE Philippines found itself in the same group with host and defending champion Vietnam in the men’s and women’s divisions of the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games football tournament after the draw for the region’s most popular sport yesterday.
In an online draw at the Asean Football Federation headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the national Under-23 team was bracketed in Group A with the host, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Timor Leste, while the Pinay booters were in the same Group A with Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.
The Vietnamese swept both coveted gold medals in the 30th Philippine SEA Games three years ago and will be out to duplicate the feat on their home turf.
“We are excited. Malakas ‘yung group with Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Timor Leste together with us,” said PH Under-23 squad coach Norman Fegidero.
What pleased Fegidero was that his charges open their campaign against the Timorese on May 6 at the 30,000-capacity Nam Dinh Stadium in Nam Dinh city, 84.4 kilometers southeast of the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, after which they play the hosts on May 9.
“Hindi masyado ‘yong adjustment against Timor Leste kasi hindi masyado maninibago ‘yong mga players,” noted Fegidero, referring to the 2-all standoff when the two squads collided in the AFF Under-23 tournament last February in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Carrying the colors of the Azkals Development team, the Under-23 side is currently competing in the ongoing Copa Paulino Alcantara tournament at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite for its SEA Games buildup.
The Nationals won 3-0 at the expense of Mendiola FC in their opening match last March 28 but absorbed a 0-4 loss to United City FC last Monday at the same pitch.