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Burma’s under-23 men’s team launched a heroic comeback last night at the Jelan Besar Stadium in Singapore with two late goals, earning a 3-3 draw against Cambodia.
The result gives Burma the single point it needed to clinch top spot in Group A. The Burmese lads can now look forward to a tough semi-final tie on Saturday against Vietnam.
Having already qualified ahead of last night’s match, the Burmese squad played several of its substitutes, wisely resting key players for the crunch semi-final at the weekend. But they almost came undone when a dogged performance by the young Cambodians threatened an upset.
Keo Sokpheng fired them ahead on 27 minutes, before Chan Vathanaka made it 2-0 after two attempts from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time.
The Burmese team clearly got a kick up the backside during the interval, and came out in determined fashion for the second 45. They soon pulled a goal back eight minutes after the restart through Thiha Zaw, but Sokpheng’s well-placed header just two minutes later appeared to have made the result safe.
That is, until Kaung Sat Naing and Si Thu Aung, both on as second-half substitutes, scored in quick succession in the dying minutes to crash the Cambodian party.
Interviewed after the game, a disappointed Cambodia coach Lee Tae Hoon acknowledged: “Our players lost concentration. We did well today, but we needed more experience.”
As for Burma, having preserved an unbeaten group stage campaign, coach Kyi Lwin and his side can now turn their attention to Saturday’s semi-final clash with Group B runners-up Vietnam.
“We know how Vietnam play – they’re a good team,” he said. “But we will try our best to reach the final.”
In other SEA Games news:
Burma’s national squad has endured a torrid few days and now sits at seventh out of ten in the medal tally for Southeast Asian nations, ahead of only Cambodia, Laos, Brunei and Timor-Leste.
Burma won only one gold medal on Wednesday when Aung Htay and Min Sithu Tun took first place in the doubles billiards.
Burma now has 11 golds, far behind hosts Singapore who lead the games with 60 gold medals, 51 silver and 64 bronze. Vietnam is currently second with 48 gold, and Thailand third with 46.
The 28th SEA Games conclude on 16 June.