Match Previews

Myanmar U-22 vs Singapore U-22: Can the Young Lions achieve a positive start?

2017 SEA Games | Selayang Municipal Council Stadium | Mon 14 Aug | 4.00pm  

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A shot at redemption.

The lowdown

Myanmar Form

  • Myanmar U-22 0-3 Australia U-22 (AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers)
  • Myanmar U-22 3-0 Brunei U-22 (AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers)
  • Myanmar U-22 2-0 Singapore U-22 (AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers)
  • Malaysia U-22 2-0 Myanmar U- 22 (Friendly)
  • Myanmar U-22 0-3 Thailand U-22 (2015 SEA Games final)

Singapore Form

  • Australia U-20 4-0 Singapore U-22 (Friendly)
  • Western Australia State team 5-3 Singapore U-22 (Friendly)
  • Singapore U-22 4-1 Brunei U-22 (AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers)
  • Singapore U-22 0-7 Australia U-22 (AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers)
  • Myanmar U-22 2-0 Singapore U-22 (AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers)

Redemption will be at the top of the Young Lions’ minds when the Singapore under-22 team kick-off their 2017 SEA Games campaign against their Burmese counterparts on Monday afternoon in Malaysia.

Both sides faced each other just a few weeks ago in an AFC U-23 Championship qualifier as Myanmar ran out 2-0 winners in what was a feisty clash, with both sides ending the game with 10 men.

If that was not enough, at the last Games, Myanmar upset Singapore with a 2-1 victory over the hosts in a packed Jalan Besar Stadium en route to winning a silver medal.

While revenge will be the main source of motivation for the boys from Singapore, Richard Tardy’s men will know that Myanmar will be no pushovers.

In fact, the Frenchman has already admitted to local media that he is at best, hoping for a draw from the opener.

The Young Lions who have the likes of Amiruldin Asraf, Ikhsan Fandi and Hanafi Akbar to depend on at the attacking third of the pitch, have been awfully shy in front of goal in the lead up to the Games.

Coach Tardy will be hoping that opening day nerves will not add to their profligacy in front of goal.  

While the Singapore camp approaches the game with caution and vengeance, Myanmar will come into this one with full confidence. Afterall, a few members in the current under-22 squad featured for the Myanmar U-20 side in the U-20 World cup in 2015 and were also part of the 2015 SEA Games silver-winning side.

Zaw Zaw, president of the Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) echoed the confident mood in his comments to local media when he said: "The U-22 Myanmar football team players are not new.”

“They have been training at the football academy since they were 11 or 12. They have been playing together for about a decade.”

With mixed elements of revenge, unpredictability and familiarity coming to the fore , Singapore’s opening clash with Myanmar in the first match of the 2017 SEA Games is one not to be missed and for Tardy’s side, one not to be lost.

Team News:

Myanmar will go into the first match of the Games with a fully fit squad to choose from. This means that the talented Yadanarbon trio of Aung Thu, Hlaing Bo Bo and Sithu Aung are all certain to start.

For the Young Lions, though, they could be without a vital player.

Adam is out injured at the moment

Key playmaker Adam Swandi could miss out the opener and perhaps the entirety of the games after the Home United midfielder sustained a knee injury during the Protectors’ 2-0 loss to Ceres Negros in the second leg of the AFC Cup Asean zone final on Wednesday.

Garena Young Lions' Zulkarnaen Suzliman is likely to deputise if Adam fails to recover in time.

Tardy has also revealed that Hougang United’s Amir Zalani and Geylang International’s Darren Teh have been dropped from the final squad and will not be joining the Young Lions at the Games.

Key Battle: Aung Thu vs Irfan Fandi

In the past week, Irfan Fandi was forced to sit out his club side’s biggest match of the season as Home United went down 2-0 to Ceres Negros in the second leg of the AFC Cup Asean zone final.

Despite  seeing no piece of the action, the lanky defender’s stock rose. Such was the Protectors’ lack of composure and leadership at the back.

It is no surprise then that Irfan will be a pivotal figure for the Young Lions in defence at the Games as he looks to form a formidable partnership with Garena Young Lions captain Shahrin Saberin.  

Irfan led the line in the last SEA Games, now he will be at the back

While Irfan has been a force to be reckoned thus far in both the S.Legue and AFC Cup competitions, he has not been tested as much as he was a few weeks ago in Yangon when he came up against the mercurial Aung Thu.

On that day, Aung Thu got the better of Irfan on several occasions, even forcing the latter into scoring an own goal as Irfan attempted to hook Aung Thu’s goal bound shot off the line.

If Aung Thu is in similar form, Irfan will need to be ready and help Singapore thwart the pacy threat that the Burmese forward is certain to bring.

The Coaches

Past Five meetings

  • Myanmar 2-0 Singapore (AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers, July '17)
  • Myanmar 2-1 Singapore (2015 SEA Games, June’ 15)
  • Singapore 1-0 Myanmar (Friendly, June’16)
  • Singapore 2-1 Myanmar (Friendly, Mar’16)
  • Singapore 1-0 Myanmar (2005 SEA Games, Nov’ 05)

Both coaches cannot be further apart in terms of their philosophy and approach.

Singapore’s Richard Tardy does have the experience as he was previously the technical director of the Rwanda Football Association, where he also led its under-20 and under-17 national sides, helping the latter qualify for the U-17 World Cup in 2011.

Tardy also previously served as an assistant to Gerard Houllier for the France outfit which won the 1996 European U-20 Championships and reached the quarter-finals of the U-20 World Cup in 1997.

However, his work in Singapore thus far has not been as positive with the public failing to see any progress from the Young Lions who he has been attached with for majority of the year. A man who likes his side to be defensively organised before anything else, Tardy is also known for being a disciplinarian.

Gerd Zeise will be in the opposite dugout and in November 2015, he replaced former Singapore head coach Radojko Avramovic as the head coach of the Myanmar national team whilst retaining his position as the coach of Myanmar’s U-22 team.

Zeise is a popular figure in Myanmar football especially after the impressive feat in 2015 when he led the Myanmar youth squad to the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

Known to play fast, aggressive football especially through wide areas, Singapore will have to be on their toes as they look to thwart Zeise and co’s swift breaks.

Facts and Figures

  • At the last Games, Singapore managed to find the net only five times despite being on home soil while Myanmar netted 14 times in the same number of matches in the group stages.

  • Since the start of the games in 1959, Myanmar have won the gold medal on five occasions while Singapore’s best result is a silver.  

FourFourTwo prediction

Myanmar 2-2 Singapore. Coach Richard Tardy has already set a target of a draw for his Young Lions and both teams will be determined to not start off with a loss. Expect a stalemate here.

Photos: FAS