A goodly crowd turned up to the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Saturday, March 25 to witness a tightly-contested Tri-Nation International Tournament match between Myanmar and the Kyrgyz Republic, that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Aung Thu had put Myanmar in the lead in the second half, before Zhyrgalbek Uulu Kairat levelled it late in injury time. In the round-robin tournament, hosts India are now at the top of the table with three points from one match. While Myanmar have finished their engagements with one point from two matches, the Kyrgyz Republic have one point from one match.
Myanmar needed a win to keep their hopes alive after a 0-1 defeat at the hands of India in their first game. Kyrgyz Republic now face a must-win situation in the last encounter against India on March 28 if they aspire to take the trophy home. On the other hand, a draw would be enough for the Blue Tigers to emerge triumphant in the tournament.
The side from across the border. Myanmar, showed a lot of intent in the first half, mounting frequent attacks in the Kyrgyz area. They had the perfect opportunity to take the lead in the 39th minute, when they were awarded a penalty after Thang Paing was brought down inside the Kyrgyz box. Captain MG Lwin stepped up to the spot, but sent his effort crashing into the crossbar much to the disappointment of his teammates.
Myanmar came back in the second half with the same intensity in their attacks, looking to feed balls onto the wings to make headway into the opposition area. As the hour mark approached, Aung Thu had a golden opportunity again to put his side ahead from a cut-back that found him unmarked near the penalty spot, but he skied his effort.
A few minutes later, it was Aung Thu again, who weaved his way into the box, wrong-footing his marker after a few intricate passes, but his powerful shot was saved by Kyrgyz goalkeeper Tokotaev Erzhan.
With eight minutes of regulation time left, it was Aung Thu, who redeemed his earlier mistake, as another powerful shot from his right foot, a low one this time, went in; Erzhan did manage to get a hand to it, but the shot packed enough punch to carry it over the line, as it bulged the roof of the net.
Kyrgyz Republic looked to lay a siege on the Myanmar third in the closing exchanges, but the latter’s defence, for the most part, restricted them to shots from long range. The side from Central Asia left it late to level the match, as Zhyrgalbek Uulu Kairat latched on to a stray ball from a corner in the fifth minute of injury time, as he slotted it home from between a melee of legs.