Malditas hold ground; Young Azkals fall

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    THE Malditas, the country’s women’s football squad, came up with one of their finest performances yet last Tuesday night, holding mighty Myanmar to a scoreless draw at the start of Group A action in the 13th Southeast Asian Games women’s football tournament at the Binan Stadium in Laguna.

    Led by comebacking Fil-Am strikers Sarina Bolden and Eva Madarand and the stellar goalkeeping of Ina Palacios, the Pinay booters played a splendid all-around game to frustrate the Burmese as both sided settled for a point apiece.

    The result was a far cry from the 0-3 beating they absorbed from the same squad in the AFF women’s championship semifinals in Chonburi, Thailand last month, and the 0-6 whitewash when they met in the 2017 edition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    In the other women’s match in Group B, defending champion Thailand battled regional rival Vietnam to a 1-all standoff, each squad a earning a point apiece.

    “It was an evenly fought match. So it is an indication that the team is improving,” said Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta Jr.

    “I believe that the Malditas can achieve more and with the crowd support, this can happen,” added Araneta, who will seek a third term as PFF president during the federation’s congress tomorrow at the Century Park Sheraton Hotel.

    But the National Under-22 Young Azkals dropped a 1-2 decision to Myanmar yesterday for their first loss in men’s Group A at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

    Burmese striker Win Naing Tun scored the winning goal in the 79th that boosted the Burmese to the top of the group with four points while the hosts slipped to third place and remained with one point after their first setback in the five-team bracket.

    Atoning for an earlier miscue, defender Justin Baas scored the Young Azkals’ lone goal in the 45th minute of the first half that ended in a 1-all deadlock off a feed by Dennis Chung, the hero in the national squad’s 1-all draw against Cambodia last Monday.

    Still being played at press time was the match between Timor Leste and Cambodia, with the winner moving up to second spot. Malaysia had a rest day.

    Midfielder Kaung Khant probed the hosts’ defenses and eventually found a gap, assisting Naing Tun, who came rushing in for the marginal marker.

    The Malditas aim for a semifinal spot in the women’s division when they play Malaysia tomorrow at the Binan Stadium, while the Junior Azkals also hope to regroup when they also the Malaysians at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.