Monday, September 25, 2017

Myanmar’s AFC Challenge Cup bid ends in 3-1 loss to Palestine

Palestinian players celebrate their victory over Myanmar at the end of their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup 2012 qualifying group stage match in Yangon on March 25.  (Photo: AFP/Soe Than Win)Palestinian players celebrate their victory over Myanmar at the end of their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup 2012 qualifying group stage match in Yangon on March 25.  (Photo: AFP/Soe Than Win)

Myanmar's hopes of contesting the 2012 Asian Football Confederation’s Challenge Cup finals next year were ruthlessly extinguished by a strong Palestine team at the Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon on March 25.

Myanmar entered the game needing to defeat Palestine to progress through to the finals, despite drawing with the Philippines on March 21 and losing to Bangladesh 2-0 on March 23.

The game started well enough for Myanmar with Zaw Htat Aung scoring from the penalty spot in the 25th minute. However, the contest went downhill from there for Myanmar’s fans, as three goals were driven home before the night was done.

The first came just minutes before the break, with Murad Eleyan, scorer of both goals during Palestine’s 2-0 defeat of Bangladesh, scoring six minutes before the half-time whistle.

Defender Ahmed Arbi extended Palestine’s lead in the 71st minute before Eleyan hit his fourth goal of the campaign just before the final whistle to seal the win.

The 3-1 result confirmed Palestine as Group A winners and confined Myanmar to a bottom-placed finish, with only one point from its three games.

However, it was the March 23 clash against Bangladesh that set the scene for Myanmar’s exit from the tournament. Bangladesh exposed an ageing Myanmar side on the counterattack and punished defensive errors – a situation summed up with the first goal on 10 minutes scored by Shakil Ahmed.

Ahmed pounced on a loose ball after a misunderstanding between two of Myanmar’s defenders – Moe Win and Aye San – before lobbing the ball over goalkeeper Naing Zeya Htun into the back of the net. The goal hushed the raucous home fans who had little to cheer for the remainder of the game, with Myanmar’s offence wasteful in attack.

Midfielder Abdul Baten Mojumder Komal, a 67th minute substitute, sealed the result in the 88th minute with a second goal after beating an offside trap and shooting into the left corner of the goal.

Myanmar’s coach Milan Zivadinovic told Premier Eleven Sport Journal where the side had gone wrong against Bangladesh, a nation better known for producing feisty cricketers than footballers.

“My major mistake was depending so much on the experienced national players. I think it’s time some of these older players were swapped for younger players.”

“Our players were not able to repel Bangladesh’s counterattacks and when we went forward and created chances we wasted them,” he said.

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