The Philippine Azkals have been bunched in a lighter group alongside Timor Leste, Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia during the ceremonial drawing of lots in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
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 “Bambol’’ 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 Nov. 30-Dec. 11 in New Clark City, Capas, Tarlac; Subic and Metro Manila.
The 30th SEA Games hosting is supported by: Platinum sponsors – Ajinomoto, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, MG Cars, Philippine Airlines, Skyworth and CooCaa. Gold Sponsors – MasterCard, Milo, Pocari Sweat, NLEX, PInco and Rzaer. Preferred – Asics, SM Lifestyle Inc. and BMW. Prestige – Molten and Mikasa. Banking Partners – Chinabank and PNB. Media Partners – Bombo Radyo, Star FM and the Inquirer Group, CNN, United Neon and DOOH. Host Broadcaster – NEP. Official Broadcaster – Sports and Action, TV 5, Cignal, ESPN and PTV 4