Myanmar’s Asian Cup hopes ended by Kyrgyz Republic

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Myanmar’s dream of qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup came to an end on Thursday as they were beaten 5-1 by Kyrgyz Republic at the Incheon Football Stadium.

In a blistering start to the Group A qualifier, the Kyrgyzstanis took the lead inside two minutes when Islam Shamsiev received possession just outside the box and lashed a ferocious shot past Kyaw Zin Htet.

Just three minutes later, their lead was doubled when Anton Zemlianukhin ran onto Kairat Zhyrgalbek Uulu’s through-pass and rounded Zin Htet, before keeping his cool to loft a shot home despite David Htan’s best efforts to head off the line.

From then on, Myanmar always had a mountain to climb and despite showing no shortage of endeavour – and the halftime introduction of Kyaw Ko Ko – they were just unable to really trouble the opposition defence.

Instead, it was the designated hosts who went on to extend their lead three minutes after the hour mark; Zemlianukhin pouncing after Shamsiev’s initial effort had been blocked into his path and clinically dispatching his shot into the back of the net.

And, in the 74th minute, a fourth goal arrived for Kyrgyz Republic as Zemlianukhin once again weighed in with a telling contribution.

Finding space inside the box, the forward played a clever square pass that took Zin Htet completely out of the equation, leaving substitute Vitalj Lux with the simple task of sweeping the ball home from close range.

There was however time for Myanmar to grab a consolation in the 83rd minute after the opposition defence failed to clear their lines, allowing Kyaw Ko Ko to latch onto Aung Thu’s flick-on and smash his shot past Valery Kashuba from close range.

But the game truly belonged to the Kyrgyzstanis and, with three minutes remaining, Sagynbaev Bekzhan was released by fellow substitute Farkhat Musabekov and made no mistake in bending his shot into the far corner to seal an emphatic victory, one which secures their place at United Arab Emirates 2019, while ending Myanmar’s hopes in the process.

Myanmar will now be looking to end their campaign on a high next Tuesday when they host bottom side Macau at the Thuwunna Stadium, while Kyrgyz Republic will meet India in an outright duel for top spot in Group A.

KYRGYZSTAN: Valery Kashuba, Avazbek Okteev, Azamat Baymatov, Bakhtiyar Duyshobekov, Kursanbek Sheratov, Edgar Bernhardt, Aziz Sydykov (Farkhat Musabekov 60’), Islam Shamsiev, Kairat Zhyrgalbek Uulu, Anton Zemlianukhin (Sagynbaev Bekzhan 78’), Mirlan Murzaev (Vitalj Lux 69’).

MYANMAR: Kyaw Zin Htet, Kyaw Swar Linn, Yan Aung Kyaw (Hlaing Bo Bo 60’), Zaw Min Tun, David Htan (Htike Htike Aung 70’), Yan Naing Oo, Tin Win Aung, Thein Than Win, Aee Soe (Kyaw Ko Ko 46’), Maung Maung Lwin, Aung Thu.

Photo credit: Asian Football Confederation