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Filipinas begin gold quest vs Myanmar

The World Cup-bound Philippine national women’s team battles Myanmar to kick off its gold medal drive in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games tonight at the Army Stadium in Phnom Penh.

Hostilities begin at 9 p.m. (Manila time) as both teams face each other again after the Filipinas secured a 2-1 win over the Burmese in last year’s bronze medal match in Hanoi.

The Filipinas arrived in Phnom Penh last Sunday and will be entering as favorites to win the gold alongside defending champion Vietnam and silver medalist Thailand.

Aside from Vietnam and Myanmar, the Philippines joins Malaysia in Group A with the top two teams advancing to the semifinal.

A lot has happened for the Filipinas, who are using the SEA Games as part of their buildup for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup this July in Australia and New Zealand, since last year’s biennial meet.

After winning the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship, the Philippines gained a lot of international exposure after playing friendly matches against the likes of Costa Rica, Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand.

Last April, the Filipinas blasted Pakistan, Tajikistan and Hong Kong in the first round of the 2024 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament to advance to the second round.

Leading the charge for the Philippines are Sarina Bolden, Chandler McDaniel, Quinley Quezada, Sara Eggesvik, Hali Long, Anicka Castañeda and Olivia McDaniel.

Philippine Football Federation Ed Gastanes said he wants the Filipinas to remain focused and committed in the tournament regardless of who they are facing.

“The players have been training hard under the guidance of the coaching staff. Let’s just hope for the best,” Gastanes told Daily Tribune.

“Any team can be a champion there. Every tournament is important and the idea is to play to win.”

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