Myanmar's Shine Thura (left) holds off the challenge of Vietnam's Nguyen Huy Hung in their 2-1 semi-final victory on Saturday. Photo: Alfie Damian Lee/ SINGSOC
Roared on by a fanatical support, Myanmar produced something of an upset on Saturday as they defeated a fancied Vietnam side 2-1 at the National Stadium to reach the final of the 28th SEA Games football competition.
It marks the first time since the 1993 Games – incidentally, also hosted by Singapore – that Myanmar will contest the gold-medal match.
“I would like to thank the players; they played very well today despite a lack of experience,” said a delighted coach Kyi Lwin, who was part of the side that lost 3-4 to Thailand in the final 22 years ago.
Despite dominating possession for much of the first half, Vietnam struggled to break down a resolute Burmese backline and were made to pay after 39 minutes, as Si Thu Aung scored from the spot after Ho Ngoc Thang was adjudged to have handled the ball in his own penalty area.
Myanmar’s Kyaw Zin Phyo continued to be the busier of the two goalkeepers after the restart, as Vietnam poured forward in search of an equaliser.
Their endeavour was finally rewarded in the 72nd minute, when Vo Huy Toan scored from close range to level the tie.
But Myanmar heads did not drop, and they went on to snatch a winner 10 minutes from time through captain Nay Lin Tun’s deflected effort.
“We played better and could have scored two, three, four – maybe even five goals,” admitted a disappointed Vietnam coach Toshiya Miura, whose side now have to pick themselves up for Monday’s third-place playoff. “But sadly, we didn’t. That’s football.”
For Myanmar, Monday will bring with it a chance to create history by delivering a first football gold since the 1973 Games in Singapore.
“I am very happy to score today,” Nay Lin Tun said. “But now, we must concentrate on the final.”
Thitiphan Puangjan (middle) scores the second goal for Thailand. Photo: Ryan Ng / SINGSOC
When the semi-final clash between Thailand and Indonesia began, it only took Thailand 2 minutes to register their first shot on target. That set the tone for the game with Thailand dominating possession, looking deadly and emerging comfortable 5-0 winners.
However, the first real chance, against the run of play, happened for Indonesia. Syaiful Indra Cahya’s curling freekick seemed to be heading for the top corner only for Chanin Sae-Ear to save acrobatically.
It was all Thailand from then on with Nurul Sriyankem too hot to handle, recording a hat trick of assists and threatening regularly with his speedy, direct runs.
On the other flank, Rungrat Phumichantuk displayed his positional prowess, as he tapped in Sriyankem’s rebound for the first goal. Indonesia assistant coach Muhammad Zein Alhadad said: “When Thailand scored the first goal, our team became unorganized because of the pressure maybe.”
The next goal came from a corner with Thitiphan Puangjan heading home after some poor marking from Indonesia. Six minutes after restart, Phumichantuk sneaked in between the Indonesian centre-backs to prod home the third after a fantastic cross from Sriyankem.
Right back Narubadin Weerawatnodom’s frequent forays forward were rewarded on after 56 minutes when he pounced on the ball in the box to make it 4-0 after the Indonesian defenders failed to clear. With an hour past, Thailand started to take their foot off the pedal substituting off key player Sarach Yooyen. However, this did not prevent them from adding icing to the cake.
With a minute remaining, Peerapat Notecheya teed up Chanathip Songkrasin to side-foot past the ‘keeper and provide a wonderful end to a wonderful match for the Thais. After his team was compared to Barcelona, Thai coach Choketawee Promru remained humble and focused: “We must go over (the final), then talk… Myanmar very strong, they run a lot.”
This author of this article is a volunteer content producer with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.