Gen­eral’s Derby closes in a draw

The Myanmar Times - - Omnl - KYAW ZIN HLAING kyawz­inhlaing@mm­times.com

THE first leg of the Gen­eral Aung San Shield semi­fi­nal’s mar­quee match-up re­sulted in a draw at Thuwana Sta­dium on July 30. Yangon United dropped an op­por­tu­nity for revenge against the league ti­tle-hold­ers Yada­nar­bon, who won their pre­vi­ous two meet­ings this sea­son, man­ag­ing only a 1-1 draw. The prospect of a vic­tory would have been all the more tan­ta­lis­ing, as a draw puts Yangon be­hind go­ing into Yada­nar­bon’s home semi­fi­nal next week.

The Lions mus­tered a full­strength squad to meet the league cham­pi­ons, field­ing a team that in­cluded Ja­panese de­fender Ku­ni­hiro Ya­mashita, star strik­ers Kyaw Ko Ko and Marcelo Fer­nan­des, and mid­field­ers Kyi Lin and Yan Aung Kyaw. But they were met by a Yada­nar­bon team that was also at full health, with Liberian for­ward Keith Martu Nah and mid­field­ers Aung Thu and Ye Ko Oo re­turn­ing from in­juries in time for the highly an­tic­i­pated match.

Yangon took the lead in the 43rd minute, when Brazil­ian for­ward Marcelo cor­ralled a long ball from Zarni Htet and found the back of the net. But Yada­nar­bon put up an equaliser not long after on a 48th minute strike from Keith Martu Nah.

Tied at 1, both teams made sig­nif­i­cant po­si­tion changes, Yada­nar­bon re­vert­ing to a de­fen­sive con­tain­ing strat­egy while Yangon de­ployed cen­ter back Thiha Htet Aung as the striker in an at­tempt to load the at­tack­ing zone in the sec­ond half. Yada­nar­bon also played vet­eran striker Yan Paing as a right-de­fender for the whole match.

“In the first half, I think our play­ers were scared of Yada­nar­bon be­cause we lost two matches to them this year in the [Myan­mar Na­tional League]. But the sit­u­a­tion flipped: Our play­ers were mo­ti­vated to hus­tle, and we were able to get the the lead­ing goal,” Yangon coach Myo Min Tun said after the game.

“We had lots of chances. It was dev­as­tat­ing to share the point in our home semi­fi­nal match – we re­ally hoped to come away with a vic­tory. But I’m re­ally ap­pre­cia­tive of what the fans did here to­day. We’ll face a dif­fi­cult sec­ond leg ahead due to the home-away goal rules,” he added, as Yangon will have to score at least one goal more than their MNL ri­vals next week in or­der to ad­vance to the fi­nal.

“Three of our play­ers re­turned from in­jury for this match, which was cru­cial. I’m sat­is­fied with the re­sult of one away goal”, Yada­nar­bon as­sis­tant coach Zaw Lay Aung said after the game.

“After we clinched the MNL sea­son cham­pi­onship [on July 17], we were able to turn our full at­ten­tion to the Gen­eral Aung San Shield. Our team wants to be cham­pi­ons in this knock­out as well – Yada­nar­bon has never won the Shield – so we’re ab­so­lutely plan­ning on show­ing our best,” he added.

In the week­end’s other semi­fi­nal, Magwe beat Zwekapin United 2-0 at Thuwana Sta­dium, giv­ing the MNL sec­ond-place-hold­ers a strong po­si­tion ahead of next month’s match for the fi­nal.

While both sides showed early prom­ise, Zwekapin was un­able to find the back of the net, and were left score­less as Sett Phyo Wai and Sylle Sekou scored for Magwe in the 15th and 88th min­utes, re­spec­tively.

The sec­ond leg of the Gen­eral Aung San Shield semi­fi­nals will be held on Au­gust 10 and 11 at Aung San Sta­dium in Yangon, where Zwekapin will rep­re­sent the home side, and at Man­dalay’s Man­dalar Thiri Sta­dium. The knock­out tour­na­ment win­ners will re­ceive a berth in the re­gional AFC Cup next year; Yada­nar­bon, as the MNL league cham­pi­ons, will be en­tered into the Asian Cham­pi­ons League.

Photo: MNL/Face­book

Yangon United de­fender Thiha Htet Aung (cen­tre, #27), play­ing as a striker, at­tempts a shot on goal in the Gen­eral Aung San Shield semi­fi­nal match against Yada­nar­bon on July 30.

Photo: MNL/Face­book

Magwe United, cur­rently in sec­ond in the MNL-1 ta­ble, de­feated Zwekapin United, 2-0, in the knock­out cup’s other semi­fi­nal on July 31.

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