Monday, September 25, 2017

Tai Kyet head to AFL Asia Champs

 

Unlike most of their friends and families, Min Thiha Kaung, Han Tun Aung and Ye Min Thu won’t be celebrating the October full moon festival over the weekend: They’ve got footy to play.

Kane Prosser (left) will look to mark plenty of kicks during tomorrow’s AFL Asia Championships in Vietnam. Photo - SuppliedKane Prosser (left) will look to mark plenty of kicks during tomorrow’s AFL Asia Championships in Vietnam. Photo - Supplied

The three athletes travelled yesterday with the Myanmar Fighting Cocks Australian Rules football team to compete in the 2016 AFL Asia Championships in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, marking the first time the local club has brought Myanmar players to the region’s biggest annual tournament.

“We are excited to play in Vietnam,” said Ye Min Thu.

They round out a 27-man roster for tomorrow’s qualifying stages, which includes three 24-minute games played over a four-hour period. Myanmar has a tough draw this year, facing off against a heavily experienced Hong Kong side that traditionally brings enough players for two teams, as well as last year’s winners Laos and host nation Vietnam.

If the Tai Kyet, as the team is known in Myanmar language, advance, they’ll compete in the playoffs held later that afternoon. Midfielder Kane Prosser said the team’s three local recruits will be relied on regularly as the team cycles through substitutes in the tropical heat.

“They impressed with their speed and athleticism in an intra-club match last weekend,” he said.

Though the weekend tournament is the first time Min Thiha Kaung, Han Tun Aung and Ye Min Thu have travelled to the Asia Championships, Ye Min Thu and and Han Tun Aung appeared previously in the red and gold at a match against the Cambodian Eagles at Phnom Penh in July. In that match, a 66-40 loss, Han Tun Aung scored the first-ever goal by a Myanmar local in international AFL competition.

He’ll hope to continue his scoring success this afternoon when he and his countrymen represent Myanmar on Team Indochina in the All-Asia Cup, a three-team round-robin tournament featuring Asia’s top AFL talent.

Team captain Andrew Romanin noted that the trio – who are sponsored by an Australian embassy sporting development grant as well as Woodside Energy – have only worked harder since returning from Cambodia.

Team members get the feel of Ho Chi Minh City yesterday. RJ Vogt/ The Myanmar TimesTeam members get the feel of Ho Chi Minh City yesterday. RJ Vogt/ The Myanmar Times

“Skill-wise, the oval ball is not easy to master, and they’ve dedicated themselves to the task with a lot of enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s extremely pleasing and motivating for the rest of our playing group to see the strides our local players have made since joining the club mid-year.”

The Tai Kyet come into the tournament with three losses in each of their first three games of the year, having dropped a home match to Indonesia as well the aforementioned road tilt to the Cambodian Eagles and another to the Bali Geckos.

But despite their tepid record, Romanin expressed plenty of confidence heading into the weekend action. He said having a deep bench will be a key difference for a team that sometimes loses energy as matches progress.

“Probably for the first time in our history we are strong from the back line through to the forward line,” he said. “With last year’s campaign under our belts, we know what to expect.”

After the Asia Championships, the Fighting Cocks play host to Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia in the annual Indo-China Cup, held on November 12 at the Tai Kyet’s home oval in Star City.

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