Hosts Myanmar bounced back from a goal down to beat Cambodia 3-1 in their make or break Group B encounter in the AFF Suzuki Cup at the Thunwanna Stadium in Yangon yesterday.
The Kingdom got off to a flying start with a 14th minute goal by Sos Suhana off a splendid flipped backpass from the line by Chan Vathanaka.
But as Myanmar’s fightback gathered strength and Cambodia’s resolve began to sag, defender Zaw Min Tun became an unlikely hero for the partisan crowd as he produced two headers of quality.
First he got his head onto a free kick delivered high into a crowded box on 36 minutes, and four minutes later he scored his side’s second with an angled header from a powerful corner.
Cambodia briefly staged a comeback of sorts in the early part of the second half, with Chan Vathanaka the focus of attack. Yet the intensity of the fight was dimming and there were few moves to worry the home side.
At the other end, a team that had worked hard to fight its way into the lead was hellbent on keeping the momentum going, and Aung Thu redeemed himself in the 56th minute after missing a sitter almost immediately after Cambodia’s opening goal.
Myanmar now look to Saturday’s clash with Malaysia (at 6pm Cambodian time) with an eye on a semifinal place.
Cambodia’s campaign is all but at an end, though they play Vietnam at Naypyidaw’s Wunna Theikdi Stadium on Saturday (also at 6pm) in what will be a game of merely academic interest.
Meanwhile, Vietnam tightened their hold on Group B honours with a 1-0 victory over Malaysia, with versatile midfielder Ngyuen Trong Hoang’s 80th-minute strike settling a hard-fought encounter at Yangon’s Thuwanna Stadium.
After a goalless first session, the game erupted into an action-packed thriller with both sides creating several chances. But Vietnam displayed better tactical nous and edged out their rivals to record a second straight win.
With anxious moments at either end, it was a move of stunning quality that led to Hoang’s strike from the edge of the box past two Malaysian defenders into the corner, well out of keeper Fahmi’s reach.
Having missed an easier chance minutes earlier, the Hoang goal came as a great relief to the Vietnam camp.At the start of the session, Malaysia had been fortunate to see Dinh Troung miss a close range effort, but the 2014 runners-up also had their own misses to rue.
A stunning volley by Syazawan Zainon was hit right at the Vietnam goalkeeper Ngyuen Manh, and in the dying stages a diving header by Zaquan Adha off a Riazal Ghazali cross again found Manh in the way.
Malaysia, who edged Cambodia 3-2 on Group B’s opening day, and Myanmar are level on three points meaning Malaysia now must defeat the hosts at the Thuwunna Stadium to progress.