With just a few days to the kick-off of the Under-20s World Cup football tournament, Burma has been hit by an injury crisis involving star midfielder Nyein Chan Aung.
After sustaining a knee injury in Europe, the 18-year-old Yangon United player is still unable to join the squad for training and is doubtful for Burma’s opening game on Saturday against the United States.
The Myanmar team arrived in Whangarei on the North Island of New Zealand on Sunday, where they will play their group matches against the USA and Ukraine, before flying to capital Wellington on the South Island to face hosts New Zealand on 5 June.
With such tough matches ahead, Burmese fans are anxious about the possible withdrawal of their star player.
“Nyein Chan Aung’s role is very important,” said Zin Maung, former sports reporter for DVB. “He distributes the ball well and is the driving force of the team.”
The young midfielder tried to reassure supporters. “I am not yet 100 percent fit, but I will try my best to be ready to play in the opening match of the World Cup,” he was quoted as saying by the Myanmar Football Federation.
The team’s German coach, Gerd Zeise, confirmed that the midfielder needs to continue working with the team’s physiotherapists to regain full fitness.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team has been busy training … and trying to stay warm.
Whereas their home country is sweltering in mid-30Cs’ humidity, in Whangarei on Monday the Burmese squad was reportedly greeted with a temperature of about 13C, not to mention a 40-knot southerly wind.