Thursday, September 21, 2017

U-23 side crashes out of Olympic qualifying

Myanmar fans cheer the under-23 side on at Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon on March 9.  (Kaung Htet / The Myanmar Times / March 14, 2011)Myanmar fans cheer the under-23 side on at Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon on March 9.  (Kaung Htet / The Myanmar Times / March 14, 2011)

The new coach of the men’s under-23 national team was upbeat last week despite watching his side lose a two-leg 2012 Olympic Games qualifying tie against India in heartbreaking circumstances.

A goal four minutes from time secured a 1-1 draw for India on March 9, with the South Asian nation progressing to the next stage of the competition 3-2 on aggregate after a 2-1 home win in the first leg on February 23.

The hard-fought game was played in front of a large crowd of more than 20,000 spectators at Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon.

Myanmar head coach Mr Milan Zivadinovic said despite going out of the competition he was satisfied with his team’s performance, particularly as he had chosen an inexperienced side.

“This is the first international match for many of them so it will take time to achieve success. I’m not satisfied with the result of the match but I am satisfied with the performance of my players because they played very well,” he said, before declaring: “India is a good team, but Myanmar is better.”

Myanmar had appeared set to go through on away goals after opening the scoring in the 63rd minute through Kyaw Ko Ko, who capitalised on a dangerous free kick, smashing it home into the right corner of the net.

However, Kyaw Ko Ko was shown a second yellow card immediately after the goal for removing his jersey while celebrating.

Ten-man Myanmar weathered the Indian assault for more than 20 minutes but just when it appeared they would progress to the next qualifying round for the 2012 London Olympics, India struck. On 86 minutes Lalrindika Ralte delivered a neat ball to Sathyan Sabeeth who made no mistake slotting the ball home past goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet.

The final whistle brought an angry response from the fans, who threw objects onto the pitch, a spokesperson from the Myanmar Football Federation said, adding that some spectators were arrested for disrupting the match.

“Some fans were arrested by police because they threw bottles, shoes and pieces of bricks onto the ground. Maybe this is not a strange reaction for such an important game but for future international matches we need to educate our fans and organise them to support more politely,” the spokesperson said.

India head coach Mr Bulpin Desmond Donaldson conceded that the Myanmar players had been better on the day.

“Myanmar was much better than us in terms of technique and skill. Perhaps, though, they were weak in central defence and I think the Myanmar strikers had difficulty beating our keeper,” he said.

Mr Zivadinovic said he would concentrate on adding more attacking firepower to his team in coming matches.

“My strikers couldn’t take the chances [that were created] today,” he said.

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