Meet the Myanmar hotshot who could send Singapore crashing out
The 60 second story
- Date of birth: Dec 20, 1992
- Place of birth: Myanmar
- Position: Striker
- Club: Yangon United (MNL)
- International: Myanmar (16 caps, 5 goals)
Despite being only 21, Kyaw Ko Ko is already the jewel in Myanmar’s National Team. At the 26th edition of the Southeast Asian (SEA) games in 2011, Kyaw played a crucial role and helped team to clinch a bronze medal.
Those efforts were recognized when he was crowned Myanmar Football Federation’s Player of the Year, no mean feat considering he was only 19.
Born in Mandalay, Kyaw started playing football at the tender age of 11. He quickly fell in love with the sport and just three years later, his potential was recognized as he was offered the chance to attend the Physical Education Institute in Mandalay – the Singapore equivalent of Sports School.
Three years later, he started his football career, playing for various ministries team. When the Myanmar National League (MNL) was established in 2009, he was quickly snapped up by Zeyar Shwe Myay, where he spent the next four years before joining giants Yangon United in 2013 for US$100,000.
His stock has since risen spectacularly since, and he is now widely considered the hottest property in Myanmar football.
Why you need to know him
In Kyaw, Myanmar finally have a striker who could propel them to international success after Yan Paing.
And under Raddy Avramovic’s tutelage, Kyaw has already improved by leaps and bounds, making him one of the most fearsome strikers in the region. Against Kelantan FA in the group stage of the AFC Cup earlier this year he netted a hat-trick, including an audacious chip, which helped guided Yangon to the Round of 16.
With 6 goals already to go with just 20 caps, there is no doubt that Kyaw is already an established goal-scorer.
Young strikers tend to fluff opportunities in front of goal when put under pressure, but Kyaw represents something of an exception. Cool as cucumber, Kyaw has the ability to remain composed no matter the situations and that is what makes him such a potent scorer.
He is also blessed with a good right foot, although he is capable of scoring with his head or left foot if needed.
His ball control is top-notch too, and his array of dribbling skills give him the ability to navigate out of tight situations and craft goal-scoring chances on his own. That, however, is no surprise considering the fact that former World Player of the year Ronaldinho is one of his footballing idols.
While Kyaw is already a legitimate scoring threat, his movement off the ball leaves much to be desired. Modern day strikers need to be able to pick his runs and move at the precise moment, but that is something that Kyaw hasn’t mastered yet.
However, given his young age, Kyaw has time to work that particular part of his game.
There is another trait that he will find it hard to work on – speed. Kyaw has admitted before that he is not the fastest player on the pitch, but that flaw is somewhat negated by his dribbling and ball control skills.
“Myanmar’s strength lies in the strike force and Kyaw Ko Ko is a major threat. Our defenders have to keep any eye on him,” Malaysia National Team head coach Dollah Salleh said ahead of his side’s game against Myanmar on Sunday.
Did you know?
- Shooting 9
- Heading 8
- Passing 7
- Tackling 5
- Pace 8
- Dribbling 8
- Creativity 7
- Work-rate 7
It was reported in 2012 that German club Nurnberg, then in the top flight Bundesliga, were interested in Kyaw and offered him a trial with a view to signing him. The trial never eventuated, but it did confirm Kyaw’s status as one of the hottest prospects in the region.
What happens next?
A move out overseas is needed considering how the MNL is still rife with claims of corruption. The Thai Premier League – widely considered the best in South-East Asia – would be an ideal destination, although Kyaw will need to prove that he has what it takes on the international stage, starting with the current AFF Suzuki Cup.
It would be a bonus too, if he does help Myanmar to navigate its way out of a tough Group B for their second ever Semi Final appearance.
All Photos: Kamthorn Pornsakulpaisal