Myanmar vs Vietnam: Co-hosts eye winning statement in front of home crowd

AFF Suzuki Cup Group B | Thuwunna Stadium | Sun 20 Nov | 7.30pm SG time

Billed as

MYANMAR FORM

  • Myanmar 0-3 Oman (Friendly)
  • Myanmar 0-0 Indonesia (Friendly)
  • Myanmar 3-0 Hong Kong (AYA Bank Cup)
  • Myanmar 0-1 Singapore (AYA Bank Cup)
  • Myanmar 0-0 Malaysia (Friendly)

VIETNAM FORM

  • Vietnam 3-2 Indonesia (Friendly)
  • Indonesia 2-2 Vietnam (Friendly)
  • Vietnam 5-2 North Korea (Friendly)
  • Vietnam 3-0 Singapore (AYA Bank Cup)
  • Vietnam 2-2 Hong Kong (AYA Bank Cup)

Moment of truth for the White Angels

The lowdown

Myanmar enter their opening match under immense pressure, having played poorly in both of their recent friendly outings – a 0-0 draw with Indonesia and then a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of a new-look Oman outfit.

That has soured what had been a relatively positive tour to Europe which took in eight matches across three different nations and had Myanmar confident that they would be Suzuki Cup contenders.

Coach Gerd Zeise then made the decision to omit both Thiha Zaw and, notably, star forward Kyaw Ko Ko from his squad; an unpopular move and one that has seemingly dented the nation’s threat in front of goal.

Add to that the fact the team was roundly booed for long periods throughout the Oman match and the White Angels face the opening match under even more pressure than would normally have been the case.

Vietnam, by contrast, are without a loss in their past 10 matches and have been playing some very impressive football across that period.

Coach Nguyen Huu Thang has assembled an exciting mix of experience and youth in his squad and the Golden Stars enter the tournament as dark horses to perhaps go all the way to the final.

Losing star central midfielder Nguyen Tuan Anh on the eve of the tournament after he failed to recover from injury is a blow, but the Vietnamese are flush with technically astute, exciting, attacking talents.

They will be confident of getting off to a positive start against the hosts on the back of a first win over Indonesia in 18 years in the final major pre-tournament hit-out.

Team News

As noted the absence of Kyaw Ko Ko leaves Myanmar low on experience in the final third with several contenders, including Thai based Kaung Sett Naing, vying for a start.

Banished Myanmar star Kyaw Ko Ko has been labelled a virus by his own coach

The loss of Tuan Anh is a blow for Vietnam but with his former youth teammate in Luong Xuan Truong cast from a similar mould the Golden Stars shouldn’t miss a beat in central midfield.

Key Battle: Yan Aung Kyaw vs Luong Xuan Truong

The hosts’ captain will be leaned on heavily to try and steady things in midfield but he’ll have his work cut out with Vietnam posing a threat from both wide and central areas, where the 21-year-old Luong, who had some impressive moments on loan in Korea this year, should be the chosen tempo-setter.

LAST FOUR MEETINGS

  • Vietnam 6-0 Myanmar (Friendly, July ’14)
  • Vietnam 1-1 Myanmar (AFF Suzuki Cup, Nov ’12)
  • Vietnam 7-1 Myanmar (AFF Suzuki Cup, Dec ’10)
  • Vietnam 2-3 Myanmar (Friendly, Oct, 08)

The Coaches

Gerd Zeise is a man clearly not afraid to stick to his principles and make the big calls as evidenced by the axing of his key pair in midfield and attack. He was thrust to prominence in Southeast Asia after he led the national to their maiden FIFA tournament, when they qualified for last year’s Under-20 World Cup.

Six graduates of that team make the White Angels final selection here – where he may well live and die by his decision to omit star Kyaw Ko Ko.

One of just two local coaches in the section, Nguyen Huu Thang has made a sensational start to life at the helm of Vietnam with the nation winning seven and drawing four of the 12 fixtures that he’s taken charge of.

He has the team playing an up-tempo, dynamic brand of football that could carry the Golden Stars far in the competition.

Vietnam are targeting a second Suzuki Cup title and will want to get off to a good start

Facts and Figures

  • Both nations have participated in each of the 10 prior editions of the tournament but only once – in 2004 – have Myanmar progressed from beyond the group stage, whilst Vietnam have only twice failed to reach the knockout stage.
  • Vietnam sit 136th on the latest FIFA rankings, 20 places higher than Myanmar.
  • Vietnam have two players in the final squad who play their football outside the country, in Japan and South Korea, whilst Thai-based attacking option Kaung Sett Naing is the only player from Myanmar not competing in the local MNL competition.

FourFourTwo Prediction

Home advantage gives Myanmar a shot but their recent form and the disruptions of the sacking of two key players likely negate that. An in-form Vietnamese team should be too strong here and is capable of winning this clash by a couple of goals.