Both the Philippine women's and under-22 men's football teams are targeting to reach the semifinals after discovering their opponents for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday morning.
The Philippine Malditas, as the women's team is fondly called, found themselves grouped with Myanmar and Malaysia in Group A. The other group sees Thailand and Vietnam, the finalists of the recently concluded ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women's Championship, fight for a spot in the semis along with Indonesia.
Maldita's head coach Let Dimzon believes their previous experience playing against Malaysia and Myanmar could be invaluable in their quest for a podium finish.
"There is a great chance for us to be in the semifinals grouped with Malaysia and Myanmar, teams that we already played against in the recent AFF tournament," Dimzon said in a statement. "That tournament already gave us insight on the strength and weaknesses of these teams. With a collective effort and following one direction we can achieve it."
The men's team was also drawn into the more favorable group, after being sorted with Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Timor Leste in Group A. Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore all feature in a loaded Group B, alongside Laos and Brunei.
According to team manager Dan Palami, the coaching staff is happy to finally know who they have to game plan against in the group stage.
"We can fully focus on the teams that we will be facing in the elimination stage," Palami said after the draw. "I'm sure they (the other countries) will be preparing hard for this tournament, and we are doing that as well. We will have several chances to make sure we are successful."
Ever since the SEA Games placed an age cap on men's football in 2001, the Philippines has yet to advance past the group stage. But despite that fact, Palami is hopeful that the Philippines can finally make a breakthrough.
"I think we have never reached the semifinal round, so that is our target right now," Palami said.