2016 Suzuki Cup Preview: Myanmar
For the longest time, the 2016 co-hosts appeared on track to progress safely through to the semi-finals, but events of the last couple of months have cast great doubt on those ambitions as the axing of star players and a worrying dip in form has plunged the team into a degree of chaos on the eve of the tournament.
Coach Gerd Zeise has been working ‘in the system’ in Myanmar for several years and after tasting success with the national youth teams the integration of those young stars into the senior set-up seemingly had the White Angels on the right path.
With access to far greater resources in terms of preparation than many of the other nations at the tournament he was able to take his squad on several intensive camps, the most recent being a six-week tour through Europe where the team played friendlies in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Cyprus.
It was there though where the first cracks started to appear as the team’s undisputed star name, striker Kyaw Ko Ko, and midfield veteran Thiha Zaw were dramatically sent home and both are expected to miss out on selection.
The team then returned home and put in a fairly lacklustre showing in a 0-0 draw with Indonesia and backed that up with a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of a fairly ordinary Omani team on Monday night.
That loss once again highlighted what’s become the real area of concern – scoring. Whilst the team has always been competitive due to a fairly strong defence, goals continue to be hard to come by. Indeed, in competitive fixtures the team has only managed to score in one of its past five matches.
It means the alarm bells are well and truly ringing for the experienced German mentor and his team, with the coach now under intense pressure to regroup his squad less than a week from their opening match with Vietnam.