Myanmar show they mean business
Coach Kyi Lwin confident of beating Singapore after defeating Indonesia
(Shine Thura 21, Sithu Aung 38, 54, Kyaw Zin Lwin 66)
(Abduh Lestaluhu 45+1, Ahmad Nufiandani 70)
Exactly a week ago, the Myanmar Under-23 football team arrived in Singapore and immediately declared they mean serious business at this South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
They headed straight for training mere ly hours after touching down and coach Kyi Lwin announced their target was to win the gold medal.
Last night at the Jalan Besar Stadium, they walked the talk with a dominant 4-2 win over Indonesia in Group A and issued a warning to their competitors.
Throughout the 90 minutes, they not only showed the spirit and aggression synonymous with Myanmar football, but also a touch of class and intelligence that has - in recent times - been the main factor separating them from the region's top teams.
Up next for them is a potentially decisive clash with hosts Singapore tomorrow, and Kyi Lwin has warned their upcoming opponents that his charges can still get better.
"We said it at the start of the competition and we'll say it again... we're here to win the gold medal," the ex-Myanmar international said.
"Of course, we must take things match by match, but there's no reason why we can't play better than we did today. We have to do our best in training to ensure we improve with each game.
"I appreciate the effort the players gave but I'm still not 100 per cent satisfied with the performance.
"Now, we must rest and prepare for our next match against Singapore, which I have full confidence we'll be able to win."
If Myanmar do produce a similar display tomorrow, then Singapore will have to be at their best in order to avoid an upset.
A clinical display by the White Angels saw them charge to a two-goal lead as Shine Thura pounced on a loose ball and fired into the bottom corner after 21 minutes, before Sithu Aung nodded home on the rebound seven minutes before the break.
Abduh Lestaluhu reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time when his mishit cross looped over Kyaw Zin Phyo and into the far corner.
But Myanmar's relentless pressure on the opposition defence, which started from the first whistle, paid off in the 54th minute when Sithu dispossessed Hansamu Yama outside his own box before racing through and finishing past Muhammad Natshir.
The contest was effectively over six minutes after the hour mark when Kyaw Zin Lwin was left unmarked inside the area and struck with a first-time volley.
The Indonesians salvaged some pride when Ahmad Nufiandani scored four minutes later, but could not manage a dramatic comeback.
Despite the defeat, Indonesia coach Aji Santoso has urged his men not to throw in the towel as they look to kick-start their campaign against Cambodia on Saturday.
"The situation is obviously not good for us now that we've lost our first game," he said.
"But we have three matches left to play and we still stand a chance of qualifying if we win all of them.
"You can see that Myanmar's goals weren't down to excellent play, but rather through mistakes from our players. It's important for us to forget this defeat as soon as possible and get ready for Cambodia."
- Timor Leste v Brunei (8.30pm)
- Malaysia v Thailand (4pm)
- Vietnam v Laos (8.30pm)