MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine national women’s football team, popularly called the Malditas, faces a tough road in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar after they were grouped with defending champions Vietnam.
The Malditas were grouped with Vietnam, hosts Myanmar and Indonesia in Group A, while Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and Timor Leste are in Group B.
The Malditas will open their campaign against Myanmar on December 10, before playing Vietnam on December 13. They wrap up the group stage against Indonesia on December 15.
Speaking to The Philippine Star, Malditas coach Ernie Nierras said he welcomed the challenge of being drawn in what will likely be the “Group of Death.”
“We have a chance to beat three top 40 teams in Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. I would not want it any other way,” he said.
The Philippines is ranked 75th in the world, while Vietnam is 28th and Thailand is 31st. Myanmar, meanwhile, is ranked 43rd in the most recent FIFA rankings and Indonesia is ranked 120th in the world.
The Malditas are the only football team that the Philippines will send to the biennial tournament after the Philippine Azkals and the country’s futsal teams failed to pass the criteria set by the Philippine Olympic Committee.