Key Battles: Malaysia U23 vs Myanmar U23

Goal looks at the key players in the clash between Malaysia U23 and Myanmar U23 in the second day of the Merdeka Tournament

After the first round of matches on Saturday, Malaysia Under-23 leads the group after becoming the only team to win their matches. Myanmar Uunder-23 will be their opponents on Monday and it will most likely to be a match of attack versus defence. If Ong Kim Swee harbours any hope of winning the match and securing a place in the final, he will have to ensure that his defence and midfield stands up to the attacking threat of Myanmar. Goal looks at the important battles that may decide the match.


This is will be Nik’s second match as the centre-back for Ong alongside Fadhli Shas but he will be the important member in the defence to counter the pace and power of Kyaw Ko Ko. The Myanmar striker did well to find space for himself to help create their only goal against Thailand Under-23 and Nik will have to be wary of his movement. Kyaw is a powerful striker with speed to burn opponents. Comparatively, Nik is more suitable than the slower Fadhli to cover Kyaw. With his built, Kyaw is also a threat in the air and Nik needs to ensure that he doesn’t lose sight of him.


If Saturday’s match is any indication, this is one battle which will worry the Malaysian fans. Reuben struggled with the pace of Quak during the match against Singapore and will find that Kyi Lin, has an abundance of pace to burn. If the pitch stays relatively dry, then the ATM right-back is bound to be in for a tough game. Kyi Lin has been the star of the Burmese side for a few years now and will be the single biggest threat for Ong’s fledging side. He has skills in his locker and will always try to cut inside into open the space to shoot. The likes of Junior Esdstal will have to be wary of that move and help out Reuben whenever possible.

Kyaw Zayar is Myanmar’s captain and the heartbeat of their game play. Operating in the hole behind Kyaw Ko Ko, Zayar is the key to unlock Malaysia’s defence. While traditionally, it will be the role of the centre-back to pick up a No. 10, Irfan Fazail might be the better option this time around. Fadhli will have to cover Nik, in case Ko Ko outmuscles him, thus captain Irfan looks to be called upon to shadow Zayar. Irfan is the most accomplished of the Malaysian midfielders and his good positional sense will be useful for this battle. He’s constantly aware of the opponents' runners and I can only see this battle finishing in favour of Irfan.

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