A goal by Soe Min Oo in the second half was enough to see Myanmar progress to the 2014 main edition, at the expense of the Blue Tigers, who now await results in other groups...
India’s hopes of making the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup suffered a huge set-back, as they were beaten 1-0 by Myanmar in the final Challenge Cup qualifier clash at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon, Myanmar on Wednesday.
It was substitute Soe Min OO who got the winner in the 75th minute as he slotted the ball home after a ball into the box by Pyae Phyo Aung.
The loss means India will now have to wait for results in other groups, to see if they make the 2014 main edition as one of the two best group runner-ups, as Myanmar took the automatic slot in Group A.
India made one change from the game against Guam, as Syed Rahim Nabi was replaced by Francis Fernandes on the right wing.
The Blue Tigers made the brighter start, earning a corner in the first minute itself. However the subsequent delivery into the box was ably dealt with, by the White Angels defenders.
Both the teams then looked to play at a hig tempo, with India slightly edging the possession stats, alongwith having a couple of more chances. It was Kyi Lin though, who came the closest to opening the scoring, as his drive from 26 yards out went just over the bar.
David Htan then created a great chance with a great run and cross into the box, which was met by Kyaw Zayar Win, who had enough time to control the ball, but then blazed his effort wide.
Kyaw had a good chance to redeem himself shortly afterwards, as he took a free-kick from a promising area outside the box. However his effort was met by a great save by Subrata Paul in the 18th minute
Clifford Miranda perhaps should have put the team ahead in the 26th minute, as he was almost through on goal. However he thought he was offside, and stopped in his tracks, but the linesman did not raise his flag.
India then resorted to a defensive approach, relying on a counter-attacking method on their forays forward. On one such occasion, Raju Gaikwad’s long throw was met by Chhetri, but his effort was off-target.
In the 42nd minute, Lenny Rodrigues set Clifford Miranda free on the left wing. The Dempo player then tried to find Chhetri at the far post, but Pyae Phyo Aung made a timely intervention, meaning that the two teams went into half-time, tied at 0-0.
Defensive India pay the price
The second half started with India looking to maintain a stranglehold on the possession. In a bid to improve their chances of getting a goal, Sung-Hwa Park threw in striker Soe Min Oo in-place of Paing Soe.
In the 52nd minute, Kyi Lin ran down the left win and passed to Soe Min Oo, who dribbled past a challenge and passed to Kyaw Zayar, who failed to hit the target.
Myanmar kept pressing ahead, as India started defending deeper and deeper. However with the White Angels pressing ahead, space opened up at the back for Francis Fernandes to run into. The Salgaocar FC player then crossed into the box, but Chhetri’s shot was off-target.
In the 75th minute, Kyi Lin played through a clever pass to Pyae Phyo Oo, who then put in a dangerous low cross, which fell in Soe Min Oo’s path, who made no mistake in slotting the ball home.
Having gone behind, India finally had to come out of their shell, in a bid to get an equalizer, as otherwise they would be staring at an exit from the 2014 Challenge Cup qualification process.
Wim Koevermans threw in Robin Singh and Izumi Arata in a bid to get a goal, but still found it tough to get past the White Angels defense.
In the 86th mintue, Myanmar got a freekick near the left side of the penalty area. Kyaw Zayar Win effort was well saved by Subrata Paul. Robin Singh then crossed to Chhetri , who tried to unleash a shot on goal. But the White Angel’s back-line did not give him a chance to shoot. In added time, Yaza Win Thein was replaced by Ye Zaw Htet Aung .
Eventually the referee blew the final whistle, sparking wild celebrations amidst the home fans, as Myanmar sealed their berth in the AFC Challenge Cup 2014, while the Blue Tigers now have to wait and see how the action unfolds in the other groups.
With Bangladesh, who have a better goal difference, already ahead of them amongst the runner-up’s in each group, India will have to hope no other team betters their performance.