BANGKOK (24 Nov 2012) – It just could not have been a better start to this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup. Despite the heavy downpour which delayed the kick-off, Myanmar served a stunning surprise in the opening Group A match to hold Vietnam at the Rajamangala Stadium here tonight.
“We could not have been more pleased with the draw,” said Tin Myint Aung, the assistant coach of Myanmar. “We played really well and to get the one point from the first match is good indeed.
While most had predicted a Vietnam win, Myanmar defied the odds and came from behind to claim a precious point off a 1-1 draw this evening.
Vietnam had a slow start but soon got their act together to take the lead through Le Tan Tai in the 34th minute. But before that it was Myanmar who were the early aggressors but were just not able to reel in the goals.
Kyi Lin, who had been a menace throughout the game, stormed into the box and was bought down in the 53rd minute. He stepped up to take the kick and confidently rammed it in.
It was a superb start for Myanmar who had qualified for the final rounds by winning the qualifying competition in October. For Vietnam, it was a massive blow but they still have two more games against Philippines and Thailand to redeem themselves.
“We have to be positive. A point is better than losing all three,” said Hoang Anh Tuan. “We played well at the start but the players seemed to lose focus after conceding the penalty.”
In tonight’s match, the torrential rain led to a slight delay in the start. Although allowed to start, the heavy conditions made it tough for the players to get going. Myanmar adapted faster and soon began to make their move.
Myanmar created several chances in the first 25 minutes, including a 18th minute crack from Kyi Lin, but were unable to get their shots in. This would come back and haunt them later in the half.
As the rain relented, Vietnam began to get accustomed to the wet. And it did not take them long to surge ahead. In the 34th minute, Le Tan Tai latched on to a free-kick from the right and headed the ball back over his marker and the keeper to score the first goal of AFF Suzuki Cup 2012.
Myanmar continued to press on but Vietnam left them no space to move and the score remained unchanged at the break.
Vietnam could have doubled the score in the 52nd minute but Au Van Hoan’s stiff grounder scrapped the left post to the team’s dismay. That miss led to despair a minute later when Myanmar was awarded a penalty after nippy striker Kyi Lin was brought down by Nguyen Minh Duc near the touchline.
Kyi Lin smashed a low shot to the right of keeper Duong Hong Son to celebrate a well-deserved equaliser. On the hour mark, Phan Thanh Hung unleashed a shot from outside the box but Myanmar Thiha Si Thu was able to handle it and keep his goal safe.
The 70th minute saw Vietnam strike their best chance of the second half but once again, luck deserted them as Huynh Quoc Anh’s sizzler rocked the crossbar. A minute later, Kyi Lin raced into the box and tried tip the ball over but it was pushed away by the goalkeeper.
With time running out, the teams began to intensify their attacks. Kyi Lin could have wrapped it up when he forced his way into the box. But instead of releasing the ball to the unmarked Khin Maung Lwin on the right, he went for it himself but was tackled before taking the shot.
With two minutes to go, Naing Lin Oo was unchallenged and should have scored but his header went over and Vietnam were let wondering what went wrong in their opening game of the tournament.