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Myanmar National Team: India's rivals in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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Take a look at the Indian National team’s first opponent in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. . .

The Indian National team is set to face Myanmar in their first AFC Asian Cup qualifier on 28th March. The team defeated the Cambodia National Team 3-2 in their last friendly at the Phnom Penh on 22nd March and will be hoping to continue their good form going into the qualifiers. Keeping an eye on the preparations, Khel Now takes a look at the Blue Tigers’ first opponent: MYANMAR.

Current Rank: 172

Best Rank: 104 in 1996

Best Performance: Runners Up in 1968

History and Achievements

The Myanmar National Football team is currently forty slots behind India in terms of FIFA rankings but can be taken lightly at one's own peril. The team is adorably called the White Angels and is known to be perennial over-weight performers. Myanmar Football Association joined FIFA way back in 1948 and the AFC in 1954.

The team played its first competitive game against Hong Kong in 1950, which they lost 5-2. The team has, since then, come a long way and was one of the powerhouses of Asian football in the mid-1960s. The team has never been able to qualify for the World Cup Finals but has won two Asian Cup Gold medals.

The team has played in the Asian Cup only once (in 1968) and went reached the finals, which shows their quality as a team which can fight against any opposition.

Recent Timeline

Myanmar, in its last five competitive games, has won two and lost three games. The losses include a 5-0 drubbing against Thailand, which happened over the two legs in the AFF Semi Finals.

The team finished fourth in World Cup qualification groups as they were handed a 9-0 defeat from Kuwait. Kuwait was then, suspended by FIFA and the second leg was awarded to the Angels. The team defeated Laos 3-1 and drew against Lebanon away, which facilitated their entry into the Asian Cup qualifiers.

Head-to-head

India and Myanmar have faced each other 19 times in non-competitive/friendly games. Both the teams have equally shared the spoils. The Blue Tigers and White Angels have both won 8 games each, drawing the other three.

In competitions, the teams have played each other thrice, with India having the bragging rights over their continental rivals. No game has ended in a draw as India defeated Myanmar twice and have been on the receiving end at one instance.

Men to Watch

Coach: Gerd Zeise

Myanmar National Team coach Gerd Zeise is from Germany and has instilled into the side a characteristic from his country – FIGHT. The coach is known to be defensively astute and does not liken any space in the back line. The 64-year-old coach usually applies the traditional 4-4-2 and thus, a lot can be asked from full-backs Pritam Kotal and Narayan Das.

Player: Aung Thu

Known for his intelligent runs and explosive shooting, Aung Thu is easily the Marcus Rashford of Myanmar football. Fast, hard working and aged just 20, the striker graduated from the Myanmar Football Academy and impressed in the AFF Championships in 2016. Aung Thu has played at various age-groups for his National Team, scoring 20 times in 37 appearances.

Aung Thu is one of the most prolific strikers in Asian football at the moment. Indian defenders will need to work hard to contain him.

The player plies his trade for Yadanarbon FC and was voted the Myanmar National League player of the year last season.

Formation

The team is expected to play a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, depending on the coach’s preference. Aung Thu will be leading the line as the central striker in both the formations, while Htut and Ko Ko will be expected to play the defensive leaders. Kyaw, Ko Tun and Niang can play in the centre of the pitch and are known to be good passers of the ball.

India will be hoping to thwart the midfield and striking prowess of Aung Thu to win the crucial AFC Asian Cup qualifier

Up front, Kyaw Ko Ko and Lwin will be assisting the ever-reliable Aung Thu in the attacking department with runs down the wings and into the box.

Conclusion

The Indian National team will face Myanmar in the first leg of the Group stage on 28th March at Thuwunna Stadium at 18:00 Local time. The stadium has a capacity of 32,000 and in the recent history of games involving the national team; the ground has either been fully seated or over-crowded. The second leg, to be played in India, is set to be played on 14th November but the venue and time of the game is set to be decided.

You can tune into the live commentary available at KhelNow.com.

Published: Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:43 AM IST

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