VIENTIANE (18 July 2011) – 10-man Laos sensationally held on to 1-0 lead to edge Myanmar in the AFF Under-16 Championship semifinals at the National Sports Complex tonight. Playing in front of about 18,000 fans, Laos scored just before the half-hour mark. But a great start quickly evolved into a nightmare when defender Sonevilay Sihavong was sacked in the 38th minute.
Laos’ victory has set them up to face one of the pre-tournament favourites, Thailand in the final on Wednesday night. This will be second time both sides will face each other as they were in the same group in the preliminary round. They drew 1-1 then but the Thais went on to win the group.
In tonight’s match, Laos shot ahead in the 29th minute through Armisay Kettavong, who had scored after a blunder from the Myanmar goalkeeper. After the sacking, Myanmar threw everything they had at the Laos defence but were simply unable to find a way through. In fact, in the last minutes, the Laos goalkeeper dropped the ball when trying to retrieve a cross, yet the Myanmar strikers failed to take advantage.
That was Myanmar’s story tonight, a case of missed chances that resulted in their failure to make the final. But credit to the Laos team who had defended remarkably for more than half the game to ensure they advanced.
Myanmar, who were the group champions, will now face Singapore in the third-fourth placing match on Wednesday.
It was great that the rain stayed away, unlike in the first match. But it was Laos, vociferously supported by their fans, immediately pushed up in search of an early goal. There were some moves upfront but nothing that seriously troubled the Myanmar defence.
But just before the half hour mark, Laos took advantage of a blunder by the goalkeeper to score the opener. As Thant Zin Nyo jumped up to pick out a cross, he lost hold of the ball. To his horror, Armisay pounced on the loose ball and whacked it in.
In the 37th minute, Myanmar’s Khant Ko Ko Soe was goal-bound and just about to move into the box when he was brought down by defender Sonevilay. Referee Suhaizi Shukri of Malaysia took out the red card and sent the Laos player off. The crowd fell silent for a second, then erupted into jeers. Things were made worse when Laos goalkeeper coach Pak Won Sok charged into pitch, He too was sent off.
In the dying minutes, Myanmar’s Hlaing Bo Bo shot from outside the box but it went around the left post. Laos had one more chance to double the score before the break when they received a freekick just at the top of the box. But Jo E Sandala’s shot came off the wall and was cleared.
After the break, Myanmar pounded the Laos goal and came agonisingly close on several occasions. In the 77th minute for example, Ko Ko Soe could have nailed it but shot tamely from close range and the keeper managed to grab it.
Deep in injury time, to the horror of the fans, Vathana Keoduangdeth dropped the ball in the ox but the Myanmar forward were a fraction too slow to react and Kitsana Seangdouangphachan managed to clear it.
MYANMAR: Thant Zin Nyo (GK), Min Thu, Zin Ko Tun, Phoe La Pyae (Cpt), Kyaw Min Oo, Hlaing Bo Bo, Wai Hin Tun, Aung Myat Soe, Aung Thu, Win Latt Aung, Khant Ko Ko Soe
Coach: Marko Koscina
Yellow: Zin Ko Tun (42nd), Win Latt Aung (58th), Kyaw Min Oo (81st)
LAOS: Vathana Keoduangdeth (GK), Xouxana Sihalath, Kitsana Seangdouangphachan, Armisay Kettavong, Anoukone Keola, Thanin Phanthavong, Sonevilay Sihavong, Sisawad Dalavong, Chittakone Sithanong (Cpt), Anousay Nyavong, Joe.E Sandala.
Coach: Han Yong Il
Goalscorers: Armisay Kettavong (29th)
Yellow: Xouxana Sihalath (82nd)
Red: Sonevilay Sihavong (38th)
Referee: Suhaizi Shukri (Mas)
Assistant Referee 1: Roberto Hernandez (Phi)
Assistant Referee 2: Mohd Faizal Abas (Sin)
Fourth Official: Sukhbir Singh (Sin)
Match Commissioner: Yeh Htut Tin (Mya)
Referee Assessor: Augustine Arlando (Sin)
General Coordinator: U Tin Aung (Mya)
FINAL FIXTURES (20 July 2011)
1700hrs: Myanmar vs Singapore
1900hrs: Thailand vs Laos