Spurred by a first half brace by fleet-footed midfielder Nay Lin Tun, Myanmar notched an emphatic 4-0 victory over Laos in the Mekong Region Youth International Football tournament for the BIDC Cup at Olympic Stadium yesterday.
Myanmar’s greater fluidity in the midfield and excellent link play drove Laos into extended periods of desperation. Amid a creaky defence that nearly conceded two own goals, Laos goalkeeper Soukthavy Soundala put up a gallant show, saving at least a couple more.
In a game that Myanmar dominated for most part, Laos’ cup of woes overflowed when they lost midfielder Tiengkham Bounyaxaysy to a second yellow booking two minutes into the second half.
Alarm bells began ringing all round the Laotian backline quite early in the game as Myanmar took the aerial route to test the waters. After two long rangers of merit had been turned over by Soundala, a well conveyed cross from Hein Thiha Zaw was volleyed straight back to the goalkeeper’s body by an advancing Thet Naing.
Laos had hardly recovered from the shock when a snap move on the right saw Nay Lin Tun twig a gap between two defenders and angle the ball home to perfection for the goal Myanmar had been threatening for so long.
That 37th minute strike almost instantly triggered a spell of Myanmar dominance in the Laos area, with the defence under so much of pressure that Bounyaxaysy nearly turned the ball into his own net while trying to clear the deck.
The Laos goal also survived a three-way shooting spree, one of the defenders barely managing to scramble the ball to safety.
However, the consistent assault on goal was too intense for Laos to survive and in the second minute of extra time before the interval, Nay Lin Tun was back to haunt them again. This time, the crafty midfielder gained unfettered access to a vantage position.
The skies opened up as the teams took the breather and the familiar sight of a water-logged pitch greeted the players.
Controlled football was at a premium, though Myanmar seemed to relish the underfoot conditions far better than 10-man Laos.
Link play had been Myanmar’s most effective weapon. It was one of those combination moves that led to their third strike, frontliner Thet Naing finding the mark with the ball clearly deflected into the net by defender Thinnakone Souliyamath. Own goal or not, it was another critical blow for Laos nonetheless.
The humiliation for Laos was complete when, at the stroke of regulation time, substitute Thiha Zaw got his name into the score sheet.
Laos were the first to make some quick personnel changes but in all departments of the game they could only come second best. If at all there was one piece of cheer in the whole contest it came early in the first half when a stinging drive by captain Souadakone Leipvisay brought out the best in Myanmar goalkeeper Ko Ko Naing.
The win takes Myanmar to the top of Group B on goal difference with Cambodia, and the two sides meet in the group decider tomorrow. With Laos losing both their games they become the first to depart from the competition.
Thailand thump China’s Hong Xiang
Thailand’s superior firepower carried the day as the form favourites to win the BIDC Cup began their campaign with a 7-2 victory over Chinese provincial side Hong Xiang FC in the late fixture yesterday.
Thailand are pitching in with almost the same team that landed the AFF U19 Championship in Myanmar last month and that red-hot form proved too much for the Chinese players to handle, though the Wuhan side managed a comeback of sorts with two goals in the second session.
It took a while for the well-groomed Thai side to turn promise into goals. There were two set pieces that shook the Chinese defence even as the Thais made the third one count. Defender Perapat Notchaiya sent a teaser of a free kick past the Chinese chain to give his side to something to cheer during the breather.
Minutes after resumption midfielder Chayawat Srinawong, who turned out to be the main agent of destruction for the Chinese, struck twice as Thailand took a stranglehold on the proceedings.
Thitipuan Puaungjuan made the most of a hasty clearance inside the Hong Xiang box to score Thailand’s fourth, though the ball had the touch of a defender on the way. Narakorn Kana scored the fifth and the last nail was driven by Pakorn Parmpak with two back-to-back strikes in the last three minutes of the game for a perfect rout.
Goals by Liu Jie and Huang Lei proved poor consolation for the provincial side, whose on-pitch behaviour was far more civil in comparison to their fiery Group A fixture against Vietnam on Saturday.