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Simultaneous kick-offs for both Malditas, U22 Azkals to begin SEAG campaign

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Newcomers Kyra Dimaandal and Charisa Lemoran finally made it to the 20-strong Malditas of gaffer Let Dimzon. (file)
By Kevin Estrada

Fielding in both teams in Men's and Women's division for the first time in 12 years, the Philippines are aiming for the podium as their Southeast Asian Games' football campaign kicks off today in Malaysia.

Both the U22 Azkals and the Malditas play their tournament openers in an 8:45 PM kick-off in separate venues across the state of Selangor, four days before the 29th biennial meet formally opens in Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur.

Let Dimzon's first game as the new gaffer of the Filipinas will be against the host nation in Shah Alam's UiTM, parading a mix of seasoned veterans and new faces when the PFF announced it's 20-woman squad yesterday.

Forced to sit out in the historic Women's Asian Cup qualifiers earlier in the year due to academics, UST's Charisa Lemoran and the La Salle pair of UAAP 79's Golden Boot awardee Kyra Dimaandal and reigning league golden ball Kyla Inquig finally made their first call-up, with OutKast's Mea Bernal and U16 goalkeeper Faith Ruetas completed the newcomers in the senior side that will vie for the podium in a single-round robin tournament.

With the core of the team that triumphed in Tajikistan still intact, Ateneo's Camille Rodriguez also made her return to the senior set up after a six-year absence.
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Ateneo's Jarvey Gayoso will be leading the line for the U22 Azkals. (file)
Over at the men's side, a mixture of college standouts and young pros comprise the 20-man team of Marlon Maro as they seek revenge against Cambodia in a rematch of their AFC U-23 qualifier in Selayang.

UAAP's golden boy Jarvey Gayoso will be leading the attack of the Young Azkals in which seven members came from PFL's Davao Aguilas, including starters Dylan De Bruycker and Jordan Jarvis.

The U22 side will be looking to aim for the top two in a tough Group B which included defending gold medalists Thailand and powerhouses Indonesia and Vietnam.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada