Myanmar 1 Vietnam 1
Qualifiers Myanmar caused the first upset in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup on Saturday when they held Vietnam, one of the tournament favourites, to a 1-1 draw at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium.
The result was a big boost for Myanmar and a major disappointment for 2008 champions Vietnam who had been hoping for all three points.
On a rain-sodden pitch, Vietnam had taken the first-half lead through a fine headed goal by midfielder Le Tan Tai from a great left-footed inswinging free kick from Pham Thanh Luong and at half time looked to be holding the edge.
But after the break, Myanmar bounced back with young gun Kyi Lin scoring from a penalty after being brought down in the area by Nguyen Minh Duc.
Both sides played open football in a desperate search for a winner but although Vietnam twice came close in the dying minutes, Myanmar held on for a commendable draw.
Myanmar team manager Tin Myunt Aung was delighted with the result and praised the performance of 20 year old Kyi Lin.
“I am very happy about this result,” he said.
“Kyi Lin was our best performer in this team. He is a great player. Today he created a lot of chances and also he was a big threat to the Vietnam defence (with his runs).
“I want to say a big thanks to him as he was leading the team.”
Vietnam’s assistant coach Hoang Anh Tuan said he was pleased at the result given the difficult conditions.
“I am satisfied with a draw in the first game, not so bad,” he said. “The conditions did not help our team.
“My target is to go the final. First game we draw no problem. We have two games left and we must prepare for the next game. I think my players played very well.
“I have belief and confidence my team can qualify and go to the semi-final.”
He admitted conceding the goal in the second half was a setback and his team did not react well.
“After they equalised we had a little trouble with our mentality and psychology. But these things happen,” he said.
Vietnam had put Myanmar under early pressure with Huynh Quoc Anh looking lively up front.
But it was Myanmar who came closest to opening the scoring in the seventh minute when a shot by Naing Lin Oo whistled past the left-hand post, after some fine work by veteran Yan Paing.
Myanmar had another chance 10 minutes later when Kyi Lin crossed from the right and the ball sped across the face of the goal with Yan Aung Kyaw unable to get a vital touch.
As the half wore on Vietnam, who beat Myanmar 7-1 in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, began to build up the pressure. The Myanmar defence were putting up a good fight, but becoming increasingly stretched.
Pham Thanh Luong’s shot was on target in the 27th minute but well saved by Mynamar goalkeeper Thiha Si Thu.
Vietnam were finally rewarded for their efforts in the 34th minute with a fine goal. A perfectly placed free-kick from the right wing by Thanh Luong found Le Tan Tai at the near post and his looping header sailed into the net.
The 28-year-old midfielder, who plays for Khatoco Khan Hoa, had been busy all match and his goal was just reward.
Growing in confidence, Vietnam controlled possession as the first half drew to a close but could not add to their lead.
Myanmar came out in the second half in determined fashion and were quickly rewarded in the 52nd minute with the penalty converted by Kyi Lin.
It was end-to-end football after that with both sides testing their opponents defence.
Vietnam came close to breaking the deadlock in the 68th minute when substitute Nguyen Quang Hai swiveled and hit the bar with a cracking shot.
Kyi Lin also went near with a shot that whizzed past the post.
Vietnam put on the pressure in the last few minutes with Quang Hai again coming close and a Nguyen Vu Phong effort being well saved by the keeper.