Playing at home a big boost to Malditas’ medal chase
Let Dimzon fondly recalls the time when thousands flocked to the Marikina Sports Center to support the women’s national football team the last time the country hosted the Southeast Asian Games 14 years ago.
Dimzon was a key player for then coach Marlon Maro’s side which won one match—at the expense of Indonesia, 2-0—and lost three other games as the country was only starting to lay the foundation to its rise in the women’s game.
Now the head coach of the resurgent Malditas, Dimzon is targeting bigger goals for her team in the biennial meet starting Tuesday at Biñan Stadium.
Dimzon played in four SEA Games before serving as coach of the national side in the previous edition in Malaysia. She admits, though, that nothing beats the feeling of playing at home, just like in 2005.
“Playing at home gives us a lot of pride,” said Dimzon. “We have actually improved with more tournaments overseas and also with our recent training camp in Japan.”
Dimzon knows that the impact of their performance in the SEA Games goes beyond the tournament as women’s football continues to grow in the country through the efforts of the Philippine Football Federation.
“I think there’s a really good chance that women’s football will become more popular if we do well in the SEA Games,” the former Far Eastern U standout said.
The Malditas, who reached the AFC Asian Cup for the first time last year, take on Myanmar on Tuesday, before battling Malaysia three days later.
Only the top two teams in the group will advance to the crossover semifinals, where defending champion Vietnam and World Cup campaigner Thailand are expected to qualify from the other group.
“We’re quite familiar with the teams and with a collective effort, I think we’ll have a good chance of winning a medal,” said Dimzon, who steered the Malditas to a first semifinal appearance in the AFF Women’s Championship early this year.