| HO CHI MINH CITY (August 3, 2007) – An 89th minute free kick conversion saw Myanmar beat Malaysia 2-1 in an encounter that almost certainly decided who will finish on top of Group A of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-20 Championship here at the Thanh Long Sports Complex.
The match appeared to be heading for a draw when Malaysia fought back to level the score in the 82nd minute through skipper K. Gurusamy who stabbed the ball home from near the top of the penalty box.
The goal came after a period of sustained pressure and was just reward for Malaysian domination of the second half.
The Malaysians forced several chances in this period but when they were on target, they found Myanmar goalkeeper Nay Hlaing a highly capable custodian.
Myanmar held the upper hand in the first half and went ahead in the 24th minute when Kyaw Kyaw Khine back headed a free kick into the Malaysian goal.
The manner of the goal suggested the difference between the teams – Myanmar had the edge in the set pieces.
Myanmar’s Pyaye Phyo Ooo looped a shot over Malaysian goalkeeper Salawi Ahmad Jasad’s hands for the winner.
With the win Myanmar are almost certain to top group A which could very well mean that they will avoid favourites Thailand, almost certain to top Group B, in the semi-finals on August 7.
Malaysia will have to beat Laos on Friday to qualify as the second placed Group A team.
ON THE OTHER HAND, Laos beat Singapore 2-1 in the other match of the group.
The result is unlikely to enhance Laos’ chances of qualifying for the semi-finals from the group after their earlier 4-0 defeat to Myanmar and Malaysia’s 3-0 win over Singapore.
A draw seemed the likeliest outcome of the Laos versus Singapore match but the latter continued from where they left off against Malaysia when they failed to capitalise on good possession they enjoyed in the early stages.
Although Laos took the lead in the ninth minute when Phattana Syvilay scored from a free kick, Singapore ought to have been a few goals up but their forward Muhammad Izwan Mustafa failed to connect from four chances he had in the first 30 minutes of the game.
His compatriot however made amends in the 43rd minutes when he grabbed the equaliser after finishing off a move in which Izwan had a creditable part.
Exchanges were even in the second half but Laos broke the deadlock in the 75th minute when Phuttavong Sapackdy ran to a through pass and sidestepped a defender before booting home.