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After taking early lead, U23 Azkals succumb against rampant Myanmar



Despite taking an early lead courtesy of Shirmar Felongco, the Philippines were slaughtered, 5-1, by the red-hot Myanmar team, who look on course of taking home at least a medal in the football tournament of the 28th South East Asian (SEA) Games, on Sunday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Myanmar dictated the flow of the match, often getting inside the attacking third to bother the alert Philippine backline. It took a little while for the game’s first chance, as both teams were stiff in defending balls sent into the penalty area. Shine Thura posed a threat in the opening quarter of an hour of the game. The Burmese left winger created three chances early. His first produced was a cross that almost found teammate, Kaung Sat Naing, at the 7th minute mark. Three minutes later, Thura lobbed the ball high and wide after staying onside to test Philippine Goalkeeper, Ace Villanueva. Not long after, Thura again gathered a long pass from inside their half, but Ian Clarino did just enough to stop the Burmese winger from causing more danger in the Philippine box.

After spending the first 15 minutes of the match defending, the Filipinos pushed for their luck on the other side of the field and immediately redeemed a goal against the run of play. Felongco did the honours of putting the Philippines ahead at the 17th minute. Weaving through three players in Myanmar red, the Stallion FC winger masterfully tucked the ball in from around 25 yards out to beat Myanmar Goalie, Kyaw Zin Phyo, who only watched the ball sail into the bottom corner. The advantage did not last long, however, for Myanmar found a way to equalize. Their aggressive approach after falling behind earned them a free kick within the range of Myanmar skipper, Nay Lin Tun. Fortunately for Myanmar, his free kick was deflected in, catching Villanueva wrong-footed. Suddenly, it was 1-1 with still 24 minutes left in the opening half.

From that point until halftime, Myanmar looked more likely to break the deadlock. They ravaged the Philippine defense with multiple crosses into the box but none of them really even forced a save from Villanueva. The Burmese had their closest opportunity to move ahead courtesy of #9, at the 32nd minute. He had space to send the ball well into the net, but instead drifted it wide to the left. Amidst the flurry of chances for Myanmar, the Philippines only created two chances to score and both were off free kicks. Paolo Salenga had a touch in those plays, but he was not able to get a decisive touch past the rattled Zin Phyo. At the interval, the score remained level.

Myanmar may have thought that they should have gone ahead inside the first 45 minutes after dominating the action, so they wasted no time in taking the lead right at the opening minute of the second half, courtesy of Thura. The Yadanarbon FC player got away from his marker to move into the box and confidently strike the ball past the helpless Villanueva. After going ahead, the Burmese attempted to slow down the match to their liking. After all, they were already in the lead, and the Philippines still looked far from finding a way to score again in the game. That instance almost arrived at the 53rd minute, but Nathan Alquiros hit his shot off target. Approaching the hour mark, the Burmese sensed the urgency to go for a third goal that may perhaps kill the game for good. With 30 minutes left in the game, Ayeyawady United’s Thiha Zaw had a decent shot punched away by the Philippine goalkeeper. Unfortunately for Villanueva and the rest of the team, Ye Win Aung slotted the ball from the ensuing corner to double Myanmar’s lead. Things only got worse at the 69th minute. Aiming to clear a long ball, Villanueva was not able to get a touch to the ball. Stranded far from the goal, the Pachanga Diliman goalie witnessed Sithu Aung strolling safely into the goal to make it 4-1, in favour of Myanmar with only 21 minutes remaining. Chances were sparse afterwards as the game merely looked like a battle in the middle of the park. Clarino had a good try from a free kick around 40 yards away from the goal, but he failed to keep his shot low enough to worry Zin Phyo. The Burmese fans in attendance patiently waited for the final whistle, and they were not disappointed. Sithu located Naing inside the box before the latter teed up Kyaw Zin Lwin to finish off a five-star performance against the Philippines.

With the result, the still-winless Philippines falls out of contention in making it to the semi-finals. They will target a positive exit when they take on Indonesia in two days. Meanwhile, their conquerors Myanmar ensured their progress by claiming their third win in as many games while still having a game to spare against Cambodia.

** Screenshot from Sport Singapore’s Youtube page.

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