Yada­nar­bon crowned, new­com­ers fall as 2016 MNL sea­son wraps

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

AFTER eight gru­elling months of com­pe­ti­tion, cur­tains fell on the 2016 Myan­mar Na­tional League-1 sea­son on Au­gust 20 with fa­mil­iar faces at both the top and the bot­tom of the ta­ble.

Yada­nar­bon FC fi­nally re­ceived the hard­ware this past week­end after coast­ing the past month, the Man­dalay side hav­ing clinched the sea­son ti­tle on July 17 with a 1-0 vic­tory over Zwekapin United.

Per­haps the big­gest dis­ap­point­ment this year was the run­ners-up, Yan­gon United, who fell from both the 2015 MNL league ti­tle as well as an AFC cup berth, hav­ing been elim­i­nated by Magwe Unite­din the Gen­eral Aung San Shield fi­nal.

Shan United showed per­haps the great­est change over last sea­son, adding a strong con­tin­gent of for­eign play­ers, a new coach and even a name change from KBZ FC. Although they en­tered the sea­son eye­ing a tro­phy, and fi­nally play­ing on home turf, the Taung­gyi side was un­able to overcome a weak start­ing record of one win, four losses, and five draws, fi­nally fin­ish­ing fifth in the league. Keep an eye out, though: They’ll be back next year, stronger than ever.

Ayeyawady United and Han­thar­wady United both got off to hot starts – the lat­ter briefly earn­ing the moniker “Leicester City of Myan­mar” for their 6-1-3 open­ing record – be­fore be­ing caught by more tal­ented squads, in­clud­ing a Magwe team that fin­ished with a strong 39 points.

Man­dalay cham­pi­ons This year’s cham­pi­onship, Yada­nar­bon FC’s fourth, fi­nally brings the Man­dalay side toe-to-toe with Yan­gon United, hold­ers of four sea­son ti­tles in the league’s eight-year his­tory.

Yada­nar­bon’s record-ty­ing ti­tle was made even sweeter by virtue of dual vic­to­ries over their south­ern rivals, both at home in Week 11, 3-2, and away in Week 13, 2-1.

The Palace Guards were bol­stered by the out­stand­ing play of their younger play­ers, chiefly Myo Ko Tun, Hlaing Bo Bo and striker striker Win Naing Soe, who led the league with 16 goals on the sea­son. He put an ex­cla­ma­tion point on the sea­son’s ac­com­plish­ment with a hat-trick in the Gen­eral Aung San Shield semi-fi­nal round, over – who else – Yan­gon United.

Yada­nar­bon’s for­eign play­ers were also key con­trib­u­tors, most notably Liberian striker Keith Martu Nah, whose chem­istry with mid­fielder Aung Thu cre­ated a goalscor­ing men­ace. For­eign ad­di­tions Kekere Moukailou of Ivory Coast and Wil­liam of Cameroon an­chored a stead­fast de­fen­sive side that al­lowed only 18 goals all sea­son.

Top scor­ers The top scor­ers list marked a sig­nif­i­cant de­par­ture from last sea­son’s – the ad­di­tion of lo­cal strik­ing tal­ents – led by a multi-na­tional dy­namic duo that pro­pelled Yada­nar­bon to the ti­tle.

The Man­dalay side de­ci­sively led the pack this sea­son, with 22-year-old for­ward Win Naing Soe and team­mate Keith Martu Nah each scor­ing 16 goals. Ayeyawady United’s Nige­rian striker Christo­pher Chi­zoba came in third with 15 goals, fol­lowed by na­tional team star Kyaw Ko Ko’s 13 goals for Yan­gon United and Rakhine United’s Brazil­ian captain An­drey Coutinho with 10.

Rel­e­ga­tion re­peat The sea­son ended in nightmare for the league’s new­est ad­di­tions, South­ern Myan­mar and Hori­zon, who find them­selves in a fa­mil­iar place: de­mo­tion back to MNL-2.

Pro­moted at the end of the 2015 sea­son fol­low­ing dom­i­nat­ing per­for­mances in the sec­ond-tier league, South­ern and Hori­zon will bid goodbye to the MNL-1 after a lack­lus­tre cam­paign that saw Hori­zon earn only 7 points. It’s clear they will need more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers and stronger squads be­fore these two are able to take an­other crack at the higher-fly­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Rakhine United struck lucky, mean­while, evad­ing rel­e­ga­tion for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year after fin­ish­ing three points above South­ern Myan­mar. In 2015, they man­aged to squeak out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone by a dis­tance of only 2 points over Manaw Myay, who now find them­selves atop the MNL-2 with 51 points and eye­ing return to the coun­try’s pre­mier league in 2017.

Aung San Shield comes home The Gen­eral Aung San Shield re­turned to the na­tional hero’s birth­place as Magwe FC seized vic­tory for the first time in Myan­mar’s pre­mier knock­out tour­na­ment with a 2-1 vic­tory over Yan­gon United. Magwe’s vic­tory also booked their ticket for their first in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance, at the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup, which kicks off next year.

Yada­nar­bon con­tin­ued their dis­ap­point­ing record in Myan­mar’s knock­out com­pe­ti­tions, where they re­main win­less, while Yan­gon’s vic­tory over their rivals in the semi­fi­nal pro­vided a sil­ver lin­ing to what was other­wise an un­der­achiev­ing sea­son for the reign­ing cham­pi­ons. But there’s al­ways an­other year, and the Lions will en­ter an ex­cit­ing 2017 sea­son eye­ing a tie-breaking fifth ti­tle, with Yada­nar­bon once again squarely in their sights.

Photo: Face­book/Yada­nar­bon FC

Yada­nar­bon FC cel­e­brates their sea­son cham­pi­onship – the fourth in the club’s his­tory – at the tro­phy cer­e­mony on Au­gust 20.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.