Young Azkals try to stay in medal running; Malditas shoot for first win
By: Cedelf P. Tupas The Philippine men’s and women’s football teams set out to stay in medal contention on Friday when the Young Azkals and the Malditas take on their Malaysian counterparts in group play of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
With only a point to show from their first two matches, the Young Azkals are hard pressed to win their remaining two games starting with their 8 p.m. clash with the heavily favored Malaysian side at 8 p.m. at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Over at Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna, the Malditas, just two days removed from their goalless stalemate with Myanmar, are aiming for a semifinal spot as they battle Malaysia also at 8 p.m.
But while the Young Azkals are the heavy underdogs, the same could not be said of the Malditas, who encountered little trouble in beating Malaysia, 3-0, in their previous encounter during the AFF Women’s Championship in Thailand early this year.
Women’s team coach Let Dimzon warned her team of complacency even as she stressed the importance of securing a victory for the country.
“We want to deliver some positive news for the country, that’s why the team is more motivated against Malaysia,” said Dimzon, who noted the Malditas’ improved defense in the draw with Myanmar.
The Young Azkals were left undone by a quick Myanmar counterattack on Wednesday that resulted in a 2-1 loss.
Nineteen-year-old defender Justin Baas, who scored on a sweetly struck volley to make it 1-1 at halftime, feels the Young Azkals are improving with every game.
But performances would need to be backed up by winning results in the next couple of matches, including against Timor Leste on Dec. 3.
Malaysia, the silver medalist two years ago in Kuala Lumpur, enters the match with a four-day rest after drawing against Myanmar, 1-1, on Monday. It will be a question of fitness for the Young Azkals, who will be playing their third match in five days. Captain Stephan Schrock and Baas are also playing in their fifth match in 14 days, including two games with the senior team in the World Cup Qualifiers early this month.