SEA Games Group A top spot at stake when Malaysia face Myanmar

Kumaahran Sathasivam, Malaysia U22, SEA Games, 16082017
Twitter @KL2017
Malaysia and Myanmar will vie for SEA Games Group A top spot this Monday, and this preview is brought to you by Schick Quattro Titanium 4.

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On Monday, another of the anticipated matches of the 2017 SEA Games men's football competition will take place, between hosts Malaysia and Myanmar.

After matchday three of Group A was played last Friday, the leaders of the group are starting to become more apparent. 2015 silver medalists Myanmar have secured qualification to the semi-finals with three convincing wins to send them top of the group, while the hosts are second with two wins out of two matches.

On Monday Malaysia will go into the match seeking a win in order to dethrone the current leaders, as well as to secure the best qualification spot in the group.

However, that will be a tough battle for the Young Tigers, considering their opponents' current form. The White Angels have won all three of their group matches, but they have done so in style, scoring 11 goals and conceding only one.

The hosts meanwhile have played in a manner that suggests to many that they have not really gotten into second gear. They were made to work to record a 2-1 win against minnows Brunei in their campaign opener, and had to come from behind to defeat a second best Singapore 2-1 in their second match.

Furthermore, Gerd Zeise's charges need to win or at least draw in this match as it is their final group match, and a defeat will mean the top spot is the hosts' to take.

However, their recent head to head records seem to favour the hosts. The last times the two sides met in the tournament was in the 2011 edition, with Malaysia winning 1-0 en route to capturing the gold medal. In the 2013 AFC U22 Championsip qualification, Myanmar defeated Malaysia 2-1 in the group stage. Very recently, the Young Tigers defeated Myanmar 2-0 in a friendly at the Shah Alam Stadium, the same venue for Monday's clash.

This time around, most of the attention will be on Myanmar and the tournament top-scorer Aung Thu. The 21-year old has bagged four goals so far including a brace against Singapore, and is expected to do the same against the hosts. His presence will mean Malaysia's wing backs, who have been supporting the attack, will have to stay down more, limiting their chance creation.

Malaysia vs Myanmar Schich infographics

But Malaysia too have their key man, although his influence may not be as tangible as Aung Thu's. Safawi Rasid has scored only once, Malaysia's first goal in the tournament; against Brunei, but their remaining three goals all came from his assists. The JDT man displayed confidence and technique that exceeded his teammates', and Malaysia boss Datuk Ong Kim Swee is expected to give the 20-year old forward another start against Myanmar.

Malaysia vs Myanmar Schich infographics