THE Philippine men’s national football team begins its 30th Southeast Asian Games campaign in Group A after the official team draw proceedings held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila on Tuesday.
The Filipino booters are lumped in the grouping along with 2017 SEA Games runner-up Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Timor-Liste while in Group B are reigning champion Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and Brunei.
Competition format has the teams playing their group mates once in the initial round with the top two teams from each grouping advancing to the crossover semifinals with the top team in Group A playing the second seed from Group B in one paring and the top team in Group B taking on the second seed in Group A in the other. Winners in the semifinals move on to the finals.
The men’s football competition happens from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 with Rizal Memorial Football Stadium the designated venue.
In the last SEA Games, the Philippine men’s team failed to move past group play.
The women’s team, meanwhile, begins its bid in Group A along with Myanmar and Malaysia while in Group B are champion Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.
In volleyball, the Philippine men’s team will play first in Group B along with 2017 runner-up Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia while in Group A are champion Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore and Timor-Liste.
Bannering the men’s Philippine team are power-hitters Bryan Bagunas, Ranran Abdilla and Marck Espejo.
The Philippines did not advance to knockout phase in the last edition of the Games in men’s volleyball.
Indoor volleyball will be held at the Philsports Multipurpose Arena from Nov. 28 to Dec. 10.
With five teams so far, the draw for women’s volleyball was deferred.
The 30th SEA Games happens from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in different parts of the country.
It has a theme of “We Win As One” and is touted to be the biggest to be staged in the Philippines, involving 11,000 athletes and officials from the 11 member nations, 9,000 volunteers, 530 events and 56 sports.
The last time the country hosted the SEA Games was in 2005. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo