HA NOI (VNS) — A 10-man Malaysian contingent forced Myanmar to share a point in the Group A opening match of the ASEAN Football Federation-Suzuki Cup in Singapore yesterday.
Placed under Radojko Avramovic for only four months, Myanmar came up with a surprise performance by creating numerous challenges for the former champions.
Kyaw Chit nearly scored the first goal at the seventh minute with a straight header, but the midfielder made it over the top from just a 6m distance.
Malaysian players found it hard to defend against Myanmar's consecutive attacks until midfielder Gary Robbat received his second yellow card and was sidelined at the 35th minute.
This seemed to wake up Dollah Salleh's players, who gradually dominated the game and worked even better than their rivals with two threatening free kicks that, if not for talented goalkeeper Si Thu, could have ended in Malaysia's favour in the first half at 2-0.
The second half saw Myanmar fighting back hard but failing to break Malaysia's tough defence. The Malaysians began to feel fatigue with only 10 players taking on the role of 11. They seemed satisfied with the draw.
Later on, Thailand beat defending champion Singapore, 1-2, in a contest of evenly matched teams.
On Wednesday, Malaysia will face Thailand and host Singapore will face Myanmar.
In Group A action, the Philippines beat Laos, 4-1, at the My Dinh Stadium on Saturday.
"We created a lot of chances even though we struggled in the first 25 minutes of the game," said Thomas Dooley, the Philippine team coach.
"We made some easy mistakes at the start which allowed Laos to score. But we recovered to win the game in the end," Dooley added.
David Booth, the Laos team coach, said his players tried to fight, but it was just too difficult against the taller Philippine players.
In another game, co-host Viet Nam dropped their chance at victory following two defensive errors and had to settle for a draw against Indonesia, 2-2.
Indonesian substitute Samsul Arif Munip scored five minutes before the end to give his team the hard-earned draw in front of more than 35,000 Vietnamese fans.
Keeper Tran Nguyen Manh of the host allowed the Indonesian equaliser to slip between his legs and burst into tears after the final whistle.
Earlier, defender Dinh Tien Thanh misread the situation and allowed Zulham Zamrun to make it 1-1. Thanh later suffered an injury and may have to be sidelined in the next match.
However, Japanese coach Toshiya Muira of Viet Nam did not blame his players, saying he was quite satisfied with the game and the result was beyond his expectations.
"There were some errors, but I don't think that it is right to blame the individuals. These things happen in football," Miura added.
Indonesian team coach Alfred Riedl admitted that Viet Nam were better and his team got lucky.
Tomorrow, Viet Nam will face Laos in a match that may compel Miura to make several changes in his line-up. The coach said his players really needed to focus more intensely and get a little lucky, so this would be alright.
Indonesia will face the Philippines, erstwhile Group A leader, in the other match. — VNS