Thailand All-Stars 1-1 Myanmar U23: White Angels dominate but fail to win
Myanmar will be disappointed that their opening match in the Merdeka Cup ended up all square, after dominating Thailand for lengthy periods
By Mark Dawson
A match pitting Thailand against Myanmar at any level would usually result in the War Elephants being installed as favourites, but this was certainly not apparent in the first ten minutes as The White Angels of Myanmar dominated from the get-go. But as often happens they were sucker punched with a goal against the run of play in the seventhminute. Slack marking from Zaw Min Tun and Ye Lin Aung meant that Thailand striker Chayawat Srinawong was able to connect with Seksit Srisai’s left wing free kick to head home.
Myanmar reacted well to this setback as they continued to press forward. Three minutes after conceding, the dangerous forward Kway Ko Ko teed up Kwaw Zayan Win, but his first time effort was beaten away by Thailand keeper Abeefaesan Ya. Two minutes later and the scores were level, and it again came from a long ball from deep which the Thai defence were struggling to deal with. Kway was the player found in space and he held up the ball well and played it back to Kyi Lin who all to easily escaped from Reeduan and Mahamasabri Awabuesa and unselfishly crossed for Kwaw Zayan who headed into the empty net.
It was Kyi Lin who was looking the most dangerous for Myanmar, and in the 22ndminute after great work down the left his cross was met by Htoo Aung whose header rattled the crossbar. With Thailand unable to clear, the ball was played back into their area, low across goal, but forward Kwaw Zayar Win could only flick wide.
There were few chances in the remainder of the first period, with both teams struggling to play anything in the way of effective passing football on the sodden pitch at the Darulmakmur Stadium. However in first half injury time the long ball over the top again caught out Thailand allowing Kyaw Ko a free run on goal. The striker tried to take it round the keeper but never looked confident in doing so allowing Abeefaesen Ya to smother.
Myanmar looked to pick up where they left off in the first half, creating another chance when Zaw Min Tun rose to meet a corner kick with a strong header, however it was comfortably gathered by the Thailand keeper.
For the War Elephants their best bet of success looked to come from Pakorn Papmpak who visibly grew in influence as the game went on, despite some robust challenges coming him way. In the 52ndminute he showed his nimble footwork as he turned well in the Myanmar area, but his shot hit Min Tun in the face allowing the ball to be cleared.
With both teams reluctant to lose their opening Merdeka Tournament fixture, the second half contained little in the way of goalmouth opportunities, and rather more heavy challenges and cautions. That was until the 82ndminute when Myanmar sprung back into life. Following a scrappy period of play David Htan played a beautifully disguised through ball to Kwan Ko, but his fierce effort across goal was smartly saved.
Kwan Ko had one last chance in injury time as his low shot from inside the area deflected off Reeduan Pi and just went wide of the post. But in truth the last 45 minutes of the match looked like a nailed on draw, with both teams unable to create sufficient chances, meaning a 1-1 draw.
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