Myanmar recorded one of their biggest triumphs ever on a football pitch after lowering the colours of mighty Thailand with a 2-1 win in a sensational final to claim the Mekong Region Youth International Tournament for the BIDC Cup at the Olympic Stadium yesterday.
The winning goal for Myanmar came in the second minute of the second spell of extra time from aggressive midfilder Thet Naing after the sides were locked 1-1 in a battle lasting 110 minutes. In the dying minutes of the game Myanmar weathered a Thai storm and held on to their hats in the gale to author one of the country’s major sporting success.
Thailand’s last ditch effort, a fierce free kick by their usually reliable schemer Pakorn Parmpak, was acrobatically tipped over by goalkeeper Wai Phyo Lwin. That accurately summed up Thailand’s frustrations.
“It is my finest hour for me personally and no doubt it is the happiest day for Myanmar’s football in particular and sports in general,” the side’s German coach Gerd Friedrich Horst told the Post after the match.
“We were extremely unlucky in the Under 19 Championship that Thailand won in Yangon two months ago. I am delighted we could achieve a good result this time. The boys have been working very hard for this and they deserve this break,” the coach said.
“I knew the game would be long and tough. But that winning goal was a real beauty and Thet Naing and Zaw Lin who got our first goal are both very aggressive players and I am happy they delivered.
There were some splendid saves by our goalkeeper. Yes, we missed some good chances and that is part of the game,” the German said.
Thailand’s coach Somchai Choyboonchum dubbed the defeat a disappointing show.
“We didn’t perform as well as we should have. We missed quite a lot of open chances and I have to take issue with some of the referee’s decisions and I feel he let many Myanmar tackles go unpunished when there should have been bookings.”
The game took an exciting turn late in the first half when Pakorn Parmpak, who emerged as the Cup’s top scorer, curled one in around the wall with an angled free kick from the edge of the box. Wittaya Moonwong appeared to have touched the ball on the way in.
At first, the goal was promptly credited to him, but the referee and fourth official later confirmed that the goal was Parmpak’s.
But hardly had the celebrations in the Thai camp died down when there came a bolt from the Myanmar blue. The counter was so swift that Zaw Lin unlocked the Thai defence without any trouble and his trusty right foot did the rest.
The second half was a battle of nerves for both sets of defenders. Twice Parmpak met with frustrating blocks from point blank range and as for his free kicks, at least two of them looked potential goals before one hit the crossbar and the other was finger tipped to safety by the Myanmar goaltender.
It was just not Parmpak’s day. The only good thing for him turned out to be the goal he scored and the trophy he lifted for being the event’s best scorer.
When regulation time failed to break the 1-1 impasse, the teams were forced into the first 15-minute spell of extra time. Then there were two narrow chances for Thailand and one bold Myanmar attempt that found the upright in the way. Just when the teams and the huge crowd were preparing for the inevitable penalty shootout came the stunner from Thet Naing, a neat advance from the right around a clueless defence and the goal was worth its weight in gold for Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Cambodia shot themselves in the foot as they crashed out of the BIDC Cup, beaten 2-1 by Thailand in the semi-finals on Friday. In the second semi-final that went right down to the wire, Myanmar managed to pip Vietnam 6-5 on penalties after the sides had battled out a fierce 1-1 draw.
The victory was worth US$20,000 for Myanmar. Thailand received $15,000. The beaten semi-finalists, Cambodia and Vietnam, received $10,000 each.
The disappointment of crashing out of the semis for the home side had some cheer in the form of the $10,000, which came by way of incentives announced by Nagaworld. Each goal the home side scored was worth $2,000 for the Football Federation of Cambodia.