Lions lasso ex­na­tional keeper, or­phaned coach

The Myanmar Times - - Sport - KYAW ZIN HLAING kyawz­inhlaing@mm­

YAN­GON United signed ex­na­tional team goal­keeper Kyaw Zin Htet to a twoyear con­tract this week as the next Myan­mar Na­tional League season looms. The 29-year-old ar­rives in Yan­gon from Zwekapin United, and will take over be­tween the posts from Brazil­ian Luiz Fer­nando.

“I’ve hoped for a trans­fer to Yan­gon United since I was at Kan­bawza FC [now Shan United], but there were al­ways con­flicts and other cir­cum­stances pre­vent­ing it. But now I’m proud to be part of Yan­gon United, and to rep­re­sent my home­town team,” Kyaw Zin Htet, a Yan­gon res­i­dent, said.

“I’m ex­cited to get to know the Lions’ fans. I’m here to fight for them, and I’m ready to win the ti­tle,” he added.

Kyaw Zin Htet be­gan his career at the Yan­gon In­sti­tute of Sports and Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion be­fore play­ing for the Min­istry of Con­struc­tion from 2004 to 2007. He was selected for the na­tional team in 2007, and earned 20 caps over the next four years rep­re­sent­ing Myan­mar in the 2005 and 2007 South­east Asian Games, where he won a sil­ver medal, and the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The now-cel­e­brated keeper be­gan his MNL career in 2009 with Kan­bawza FC, and was trans­ferred in 2015 to Zwekapin United. Last year’s eighth-place fin­ish­ers, Zwekapin have never won a season ti­tle or cup tro­phy. Rep­re­sent­ing Kayin State but based in Yan­gon, the club an­nounced their in­ten­tion to re­tire from com­pe­ti­tion on Au­gust 22, but pledged to con­tinue op­er­at­ing a youth foot­ball academy.

Zwekapin United, which was founded in 2010, did not spec­ify a rea­son but is­sued a re­trac­tion on Oc­to­ber 14 an­nounc­ing their in­ten­tion to com­pete in the 2017 season.

Yan­gon United, which has won the Myan­mar Na­tional League ti­tle four times in the league’s eight sea­sons, hasn’t been rest­ing on their sec­ond­place fin­ishes in both last year’s season and the General Aung San Shield, Myan­mar’s premier knock­out cup. In ad­di­tion to pick­ing up Zwekapin United’s keeper, they also signed Ze­yar Shwe Myay tech­ni­cal ad­viser U Nyan Win to a two-year con­tract.

U Nyan Win em­pha­sised that he would also be on-hand to ad­vise dur­ing pre-season train­ing ses­sions, and will be as­sist­ing Yan­gon’s coach­ing staff with team for­ma­tions and on the pitch strat­egy.

“I’m lucky to be join­ing Yan­gon United, one of the Myan­mar Na­tional League’s old­est clubs. They’ve weath­ered the storm of the league’s ex­pan­sion and still come out win­ners. I’m hun­gry for vic­tory and ex­cited to help bring the team back to the top of the ta­ble,” he said.

Ze­yar Shwe Myay, one of the MNL’s found­ing clubs, fin­ished the 2016 season in sixth place, but a de­ci­sion by the Sa­gaing Re­gion Hlut­taw to re­turn the Monywa-based team’s play­ing fields to pub­lic own­er­ship evicted the team – and de­prived them of cru­cial con­ces­sion rev­enues. The team’s own­er­ship an­nounced their with­drawal from the league on Au­gust 26.

“We can’t pre­dict what will hap­pen, or con­firm whether our team will ever com­pete again in the MNL or not. But our own­er­ship is cer­tain that we can­not un­der the cur­rent cir­cum­stances. We’ve in­vested a lot of money on the team – around K800 mil­lion each year – and now we’re not sure if we can keep go­ing,” Ze­yar Shwe Myay general man­ager U Thein Aung pre­vi­ously told The Myan­mar Times.

A third team, My­itky­ina’s Manaw Myay, also re­signed from com­pe­ti­tion on the eve of their pro­mo­tion to Myan­mar’s top tier league.

The two with­drawals cre­ated an un­ex­pected scram­ble, both for or­phaned play­ers and of­fi­cials as well as for the league, which had seen years of sus­tained growth. Fol­low­ing a meet­ing with Myan­mar Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion of­fi­cials on Septem­ber 10, the league con­firmed that the 2017 season would pro­ceed with a 12-team sched­ule, by re­tain­ing South­ern Myan­mar, last year’s penul­ti­mate fin­ish­ers in MNL-1, and pro­mot­ing Nay Pyi Taw FC, which fin­ished third in MNL-2.

A former na­tional league team as­sis­tant coach, U Nyan Win also cur­rently coaches Myan­mar’s youth sides – putting him in a priv­i­leged po­si­tion to scout for Yan­gon’s next gen­er­a­tion of tal­ents.

U Nyan Win also spoke to Yan­gon’s fa­mously en­thu­si­as­tic fans, say­ing “I see the Lions’ fans are crazy about foot­ball. I want to urge them to sup­port our lads both in vic­tory and in de­feat. We can all work to­gether to help drive the team to suc­cess next season.”

Photo: Face­book/Yan­gon United FC

Kyaw Zin Htet (left) takes part in his first train­ing ses­sion with Yan­gon United on Oc­to­ber 14.

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