CLARK FREEPORT -- The Philippine Azkals have been bunched in a lighter group during the ceremonial drawing of lots for the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The Azkals have been grouped alongside Timor Leste, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Malaysia.
Only the Malaysians, the 2017 edition silver medalists on their home turf, are poised to provide the biggest challenge to the Azkals in men’s football where the top two teams from the two groups will progress to the semifinals.
Defending champion Thailand joined bronze medalist Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, and Singapore in Group A during the event graced by Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino.
The Philippine Malditas, the country’s women’s football squad, got Myanmar and Malaysia as group mates in Group A, the less punishing group compared to Group B’s defending champion Vietnam, silver medalist Thailand and Indonesia.
With only five teams in women’s volleyball after the withdrawal of Malaysia, the Philippines will play in a single-round robin format with Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore.
The men’s squad, meanwhile, selected Group B with defending silver and bronze medalists Indonesia and Vietnam together with Cambodia, to avoid defending champion Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar and Timor Leste in Group A.
Badminton, underwater hockey, sepak takraw and water polo also held their own draw to determine the groupings during the 11-nation sportsfest on November 30 to December 11 in New Clark City, Capas, Tarlac; Subic and Metro Manila.