The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

ASINGLE, rub­ber flip-flop; a ba­nana peel; a hand­ful of sta­dium chairs – all this and more lit­tered the edge of the pitch in Man­dalay’s Man­dalar Thiri Sta­dium on July 4. The de­bris came rain­ing down dur­ing the Myan­mar vs Viet­nam semi­fi­nal of this year’s AFF Women’s Cham­pi­onship. Af­ter the home team man­aged a heroic come­back and pulled ahead in the first minute of ex­tra time, a rau­cous crowd of 30,000 White An­gel sup­port­ers thought their cham­pi­onship tick­ets were booked. But a controversial, last-minute penalty kick tied the match at 3-3, and Myan­mar would go on to lose the game in a shoot-out, 5-4.

The turn­ing point came in the fourth and fi­nal minute of ex­tra time, when South Korean ref­eree Oh Hyeon Jeong awarded a shock­ing penalty kick to the vis­i­tors af­ter Myan­mar keeper fouled Viet­namese striker Huynh Nhu in the box.

The de­ci­sion drew out­rage from the home crowd, who had turned out in droves to see if the White Angels could se­cure a berth in the ti­tle match. Ad­di­tional se­cu­rity was called into the sta­dium as dis­gusted fans threw trash, shoes, their own chairs and uniden­ti­fi­able bits of food from the stands.

Dur­ing the tu­mult, star striker Minh Nguyet stepped up and buried the penalty kick, scor­ing the equal­izer – two min­utes af­ter the ex­tra time was sup­posed to have ended – at 90’ (+6).

Soon af­ter, ref­er­ees were forced to halt the game for nearly half an hour as the fans ram­paged, even­tu­ally caus­ing roughly K2 mil­lion (US$1700) in dam­ages to the sta­dium. Once the game was back un­der way, a backand-forth over­time failed to pro­duce a win­ning side. The match would be de­cided by the shoot-out, in which Viet­namese keeper Kieu Trinh blocked Myan­mar cap­tain Su­nisa Srangth­a­song to steal the vic­tory.

Af­ter the game, Myan­mar coach coach Roger Rei­jn­ers ad­dressed the fan re­ac­tion in pos­i­tive terms.

“I would like to thank the Myan­mar peo­ple,” he said. “I never saw the stands that full for a women’s game.”

His coun­ter­part Mai Duc Chung was equally im­pressed.

“We were lucky in the penalty kicks,” he said. “But I’m im­pressed by the Myan­mar peo­ple. Women’s matches need more spec­ta­tors and to­day I’m amazed by the fans’ pas­sion.”

Viet­nam jumped out to an early lead thanks to back-to-back goals from Huynh Nhu and Tuyet Dung in the 15th and 16th min­utes. But Myan­mar stormed back af­ter the break, notch­ing their first goal in the 60th minute on a goal from Win Theingi Tun. May Thu Kyaw lev­elled the con­test 16 min­utes later, set­ting up a fran­tic fi­nal 15 min­utes.

Myan­mar pushed ahead in the 90th minute on a penalty kick of their own, awarded af­ter Bui Thi Nhu’s hand­ball. Win Theingi Tun scored her sec­ond goal of the match, and it seemed Myan­mar had the come-from-be­hind vic­tory in hand.

“In the sec­ond half, we got one goal back and sud­denly, we were con­fi­dent again,” Rei­jn­ers said. “Then we got the equaliser, and we even lead the game. But … our play­ers need to take care of details.”

He had no harsh words for the ref­eree’s de­ci­sion.

To­day, the White Angels look to bounce back to face Aus­tralia’s U-20 team in the third place match. They drew 1-1 in their group stages match. Viet­nam will face Thai­land in the fi­nals. – Ad­di­tional Re­port­ing Kyaw Ko Ko and Than Naing Soe

Photo: Kyaw Ko Ko

Se­cu­rity forces at­tempt to calm an in­censed crowd at Man­dalar Thiri sta­dium on July 4, af­ter a controversial penalty sent the semi­fi­nal match be­tween Myan­mar and Viet­nam into over­time.

Photo: Kyaw Ko Ko

The fans did K2 mil­lion (US$1700) worth of dam­age.

Photo: MFF

Myan­mar’s Win Theingi Tun cel­e­brates af­ter seem­ingly putting the game away dur­ing ex­tra time.

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