BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Can two-time semi-finalists Myanmar better their best achievement in the AFF Championship, with many of their 2015 World Cup U-20 squad members now in their senior team? The Asian Lions have been drawin in Group A.
Now with another German trainer, Antoine Hey at the reins, the Asian Lions are seeking to better their achievement with a rejuvenated line-up.
In 2014, the Myanmar U-19 squad made history by reaching the semi-final stage of the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship, qualifying for the U-20 World Cup the following year. In the World Cup finals they lost in all their group stage matches, but the generation of players have done more than enough to announce their arrival to the continent and the Southeast Asia region.
Zeise, who led the same team in the AFC U-19 tournament, U-20 World Cup, the 2016 AFF Championship as well as the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, has parted ways with them early this year after failing to take them to the continental finals. Now it's up to his compatriot and successor to prove that this generation of Myanmar players actually have what it takes to shine at the senior level too.
Although under Hey they haven't produced promising results, four straight defeats, these losses were against top sides; China (1-0), Indonesia (3-0), Bolivia (3-0) and Bahrain (4-1).
In August, Myanmar U-23, who were also led by the 48-year old coach and composed of the same set of players, were able to compete against the more established sides in the group stage of the football event at the Asian Games, just missing out on the knockout stage on goal difference.
Myanmar. Photo from INASGOC/Antara
Goalkeepers: Yan Aung Lin, Kyaw Zin Phyo, Pyae Phyo Aung
Defenders: Zaw Min Tun, David Htan, Nanda Kyaw, Kyaw Zin Lwin, Phyo Ko Ko Thein, Hein Thiha Zaw, Set Phyo Wai, Win Min Htut
Midfielders: Zin Phyo Aung, Maung Maung Lwin, Hlaing Bo Bo, Yan Naing Oo, Myo Ko Tun, Ye Ko Oo, Yan Aung Kyaw (C)
Forwards: Kaung Sett Naing, Aung Thu, Win Naing Soe, Suan Lam Mang, Than Paing
HEAD COACH PROFILE
48-year old Antoine Hey had spent over a decade and a half coaching in emerging football nations, mostly at the international level. Before Myanmar, he had stints in Africa with the Lesotho, Gambia, Liberia, Kenya and Rwanda national teams. The German also had spells as technical director with Liberia and Bahrain. After quitting Rwanda in January this year, he was appointed as head coach of Myanmar and Myanmar U-23 four months later.The 2018 AFF Championship will be his first ever senior level tournament with the Asian Lions.
Antoine Hey. Photo from New Times Rwanda
Hey prefers to play with four defenders, and the remaining six outfield players are placed in several variations; sometimes one forward and five midfielders, at times three forwards and three midfielders, and even the more traditional two strikers and four midfielders. His Myanmar U-23 side play more deliberate football, preferring to lure the opposition high up the pitch, only passing the ball up when a passing lane is available. But when they get the ball near the oppositions' danger area, they will turn up their pace to eleven, exchanging dizzying, intricate series of passes, with at least one forward making himself available in the penalty area in anticipation of a delivery. Hey's squad has limited players with height, so they avoid making crosses into the penalty area..
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Just hours after arriving in Phnom Penh, Malaysia underwent their first training at Olympic Stadium ahead of their Group A #affsuzukicup2018 match against Cambodia. Hanya beberapa jam selepas tiba di Phnom Penh, pasukan Malaysia berlatih di Stadium Olimpik bagi persiapan perlawanan Kumpulan A Piala AFF mereka menentang Kemboja.