Myanmar U-19 team loses in penalties
MYANMAR dropped the third-place match in the KBZ Bank U-19 Cup, losing to rival Thailand in a penalty shoot-out 8-7 yesterday at Mandalar Thiri Stadium.
The loss came as a surprise, as the home team dominated Thailand 1-0 in their previous meeting during the tournament’s round-robin stage. But after an injury and ensuing red card, the Myanmar side could not break a tie as time wound down and would go on to lose in the penalties by missing two shots.
Myanmar got the scoring started in the first half. Striker Aung Kaung Mann slipped through the Thai defence in the 23rd minute, slotting a goal past the Thailand keeper’s outstretched right hand. The goal capped a ferocious start from the home team, which saw multiple shots on goal from Aung Kaung Mann and Kyaw Thet Oo, the other striker.
The tide began to turn, however, when Thai striker Sirimongkol Jitbanjong headed in a cross from the corner to even the score at 1-1. The goal came just before the half, and when the teams emerged from the locker room, Thailand began to assert control.
As the Myanmar defenders struggled to foil Thai counterattacks, the game’s early hero Aung Kaung Mann went down with a lower body injury. Myanmar coach U Myo Hlaing Win substituted Sa Aung Pyay Ko, who quickly made his own exit after drawing a red card.
Down a man, their attack suffered for the final 20 minutes. The Thai midfield controlled the ball, feeding their forwards and challenging the Myanmar defenders on all sides. When the whistle blew at the end of 90 minutes, Myanmar was fortunate to have earned a chance at a penalty shoot-out.
Myanmar keeper Sann Sat Naing stopped the first Thai attempt, something that seemed like a good omen. But after both teams capitalised on their second chances, Myanmar missed a kick of its own. Still tied after five chances, the game progressed to sudden death, and the Thai keeper managed to turn away Myanmar’s eighth attempt.
After the game, U-19 head coach U Myo Hlaing Win said that he thought his team struggled because Thailand had learned their style of play during the teams’ first meeting.
“Both teams knew each other well and prepared carefully,” he said. “We missed some chances, and so we missed third place.”
He added, however, that this tournament is more-or-less a tune-up for the upcoming AFF U-19 Championships in Hanoi.
“We played four matches against good opponents in this tournament,” U Myo Hlaing Win,a former star striker for the Myanmar national team, said. “We got experience, and that’s what we needed. I think our players have more confidence now.”
The upcoming tournament will be his first as Myanmar’s U-19 coach, and he hopes to return the team to its glory years in the mid 2000s. Saying he felt “80 percent” satisfied with the country’s current squad, U Myo Hlaing Win has just two weeks to get everything in order.
Myanmar will face a challenging Group B draw of Thailand, Laos, Australia, Cambodia and Indonesia.
Thailand scores the winning penalty against Myanmar keeper Sann Sat Naing in the KBZ Bank U-19 Cup yesterday.