Malditas still optimistic ahead of their final crack at the podium

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There was nothing to be ashamed for the Malditas after their debut semifinal in the SEA Games. Mia Montayre/PFF
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA—The Philippines have been relegated to the bronze medal match of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games women's football tournament, but that did not deter the Malditas to be optimistic after all.

For manager Let Dimzon and goalkeeper Inna Palacios talked to Dugout Philippines, after reigning queens Vietnam shut them out Thursday in BiƱan.

"First is Vietnam is really hard to fought," Dimzon said after the Maldita's loss to the Golden Girls in the semifinal before a sold-out crowd at the stable of Stallion Laguna.

Add to that, the familiarity came into play when they first played them in the AFF Women's Championship last August gave them a glimpse of the glaring difference between the two sides.

"Their technical ability and experience playing is high compared to our team. But although the team played well, we just can't sustain their attacking."

Ahead of their rematch with Myanmar for the final spot at the podium, she added that there's nothing special in their plans as they seek to end the medal drought that spanned more than three decades.

"So we would just to give another motivation to the players. What we wanted is to stay in focus."

Palacios was proud to see the crowd have come into droves for the Malditas, although it was not the ideal result in front of the 2590 fans who trooped in to the City of Life.

"My heart is so full. The team's been working really hard to get to where we are right now," she said.

"I'm sure we have more to offer and it's just unfortunate that we have some lapses. Our goal is still achievable, we can still finish podium and that's what we're trying to focus right now. "

With the results, she was proud that the gap between theme and big three of Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar in women's football gets thinner as the  matches had come by, although much work is needed.

"Konti pa. At least we can see we're improving. We're happy na we're able to be at par in the past two tournaments." 

And with their final match being played at the historic Rizal Memorial, Palacios hopes to make the most of it in their lone match there. "Ganun pa rin. We have to stay focused. Mahirap kalaro ang sarili. This is what we've been waiting for so we don't want to waste any opportunities."

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