| YANGON (Feb 18, 2007) – Myanmar had the tough luck of the penalties to blame for their defeat in the first round of the Olympic 2008 qualifiers this week when they were dumped out 4-1 by a resolute side from India.
The score at the end of regulation in Kolkata was 2-2 – courtesy of identical 1-1 score lines the previous week in Yangon as well as in India.
Manjit Singh’s early goal in the 39th minute was cancelled out by Moe Win who equalised from close range to give Myanmar a shot to play in the next round.
But with Indian keeper Paul Subrata playing the best game of his life, he twice denied the visitors from the spot to give victory to India at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Newly-crowned Asean Football Championship winners Singapore on the other hand was denied a place in the next round when they were beaten by Pakistan 3-2 in Lahore for an aggregate loss of 5-3.
In the match which was played at the Punjab Stadium, host Pakistan just needed a draw to make into the second round following their fabulous 2-1 win over the same side just a week earlier in Singapore.
With their back to the wall, the Lions struck two quick goals through Khairul Amri (31st and 39th) for them to take a 2-0 lead at the break.
But in spite of being on top, Singapore’s failure to control their temper saw two players – Hariss Harun and Zulfadli Zainal – beind red-carded to give the advantage to Pakistan.
An goal from Yusisikander Yusap and then an equaliser from Pakistan substitute Farooq Shah allowed Pakistan to draw level in the 76th minute before Muhammad Rasool fired the winner in the 89th minute.
In Bangkok, Thailand ran riot against Turkmenistan when they beat the latter 5-1 at the Supachalasai Stadium for a 6-1 aggregate victory.
The Thais scored their goals through Teerasil Dangda (32nd minute), Teerathep Winothai (33rd and 42nd), Chakrit Buathong (60th) and Warut Wongdee (71st) while Kiatprawut Saiwaeo scored an own goal in the 46th minute for the final score line.
Vietnam on the other hand beat Afghanistan 2-0 at the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh to advance to the next round – courtesy of goals from Huynh Phuc Hiep and Nguyen Vu Phong in this one-off match.
A 1-0 win over Maldives in the first leg in Jakarta was enough for Indonesia to make the second round of the Olympic qualifiers when the two sides were locked scoreless in Male.
Following the completion of the first round matches of the qualifiers this week, the second round of the Olympic 2008 qualifiers will begin next week as the 24 teams are divided into six groups.
SECOND ROUND GROUPING
Group A: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Pakistan
Group B: Japan, Malaysia, Syria, Hong Kong
Group C: Oman, Lebanon, Vietnam, Indonesia
Group D: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Australia
Group E: Iraq, DPR Korea, Thailand, India
Group F: Korea Republic, UAE, Uzbekistan, Yemen