SEA games 2015: Thailand v Myanmar football final - a repeat of 1993

SEA games 2015: Thailand v Myanmar football final - a repeat of 1993
Myanmar players celebrating with fans after beating Vietnam 2-1 yesterday. Myanmar have come to these SEA Games with a weakened side but have given a good account of themselves by reaching the final against Thailand tomorrow.
PHOTO: ST

The year is 2015 but deja vu is in the air as this SEA Games' football final will be a repeat between Thailand and Myanmar, who had beaten hosts Singapore along the way - just like it was in 1993, the last time the biennial meet was held here.

Thailand steam-rollered Indonesia 5-0 while Myanmar shocked a free-scoring Vietnam 2-1 in their respective semi-finals at the National Stadium yesterday to set up the repeat final clash.

Although the English-speaking media was left frustrated by the translation at the post-match conference, they could comprehend that Myanmar coach Kyi Lwin remembers the significance of this win.

"I was a player in 1993 and now as a coach, I am happy to have reached a final again in Singapore," he said.

In the first semi-final of the day, watched by a crowd of 22,000, Myanmar took the lead through a 38th-minute penalty by Si Thu Aung, the striker's fifth goal of the Games.

Vo Huy Toan deservedly equalised for Vietnam in the 71st minute, tapping home after goalkeeper Phyo Kyaw Zin had initially palmed away an effort from inside the area.

Against the run of play, Myanmar captain Nay Lin Tun netted the winner when his deflected shot dipped over Vietnam custodian Phi Minh Long and into the net in the 78th minute.

While the earlier semi-final was a hard-fought affair, the Thais coasted past the Indonesians.

The goals came from all angles and distances. Midfielder Rungrat Phumichantuk stabbed home from close range in the 13th minute, Thitiphan Puangjan doubled the advantage with a header in the 29th, Rungrat then bagged his second with a header in the 50th.

Right-back Narubadin Weerawatnodom got the fourth six minutes later when he drilled into the net from the edge of the box and, best of all, star playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin capped off a web of passes by lashing home from outside the box in the 89th minute.

Thailand coach Choketawee Promrut said of his team's ruthless display: "Indonesia played well in the opening 30 minutes but after we found spaces, we did well because my players were very good.

"Myanmar are very strong and run a lot so we must work hard. Our target is of course the gold medal and the players must aim for that and a place in the national team."

Both finalists have enjoyed a similar run to the final, as they topped their respective groups and are the only unbeaten teams left in the competition.

But, while Thailand were always expected to be one of two teams in the final tomorrow, not many had expected Myanmar to even get past the group stage, as they were grouped together with Singapore and 2013 silver medallists Indonesia.

They were also not helped by the fact that they were forced to send a weakened team to compete at these Games.

The best players from the nation were instead selected to compete at the Fifa U-20 World Cup in New Zealand or the national team in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

This meant that coach Kyi had to do without the likes of star striker Kyaw Ko Ko and the midfield triangle of Kyi Lin, Nanda Kyaw and Naing Lin Oo.

But, through sheer determination, the Myanmar players passed every test so far and are about to sit for their final exam.

Coach Kyi said: "I am very surprised about the result and thank all my players who played very well.

"We have reached the final so we are very close to our target of a gold medal. We have been waiting very long for that."

By the way, Thailand beat Myanmar 4-3 in the final in 1993.


This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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