Late goal pushes Myanmar to SEA Games men's football semis

By Ivan Saldajeno

BINAN--Myanmar booked a place in the Southeast Asian Games men's football semifinals after edging Cambodia, 2-1, at the Binan Football Stadium on Monday night.

Aung Kaung Mann scored the winning goal late in the match as the Burmese side actually gave the U22 Azkals some more glimmer of hope in their bid to join the visiting team in the playoffs.

Cambodia, which could have complicated the playoff race with a win, struck first in the 21st minute thanks to Sin Sophanat. Myanmar equalized when Lwin Moe Aung scored a goal of his own in the 27th minute.

Come the second half, Cambodia, seemingly contented with a draw, opted to slow things down. However, Myanmar remained aggressive, and its grit was rewarded when Mann chipped the ball in from a tough angle in the 86th minute.

Goalkeeper Kimhuy Hul actually got a piece of the ball, but it sailed through the goalmouth and he was too late to complete the save as the ball was already inside the goal line when he tapped it out.

With the victory, Myanmar clinched the top seed in Group A with 10 points, leaving Cambodia, the U22 Azkals, and Malaysia, 4-0 winner over Timor Leste in a simultaneous kickoff at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, scrambling for the last semifinal spot in the final matchday of their group stage play on Wednesday.

An own goal from Filomeno Junior in the sixth minute spelled doom for Timor Leste in its last dash to make the Final Four, and Hadi Fayyadh's brace in the 34th and the 43th minutes and Akhyar Rashid's 81st minute strike sealed Malaysia's much needed win to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Cambodia, Malaysia, and the U22 Azkals are tied for second place with four points each, but Cambodia and Malaysia own the first and second tiebreakers respectively on goal difference, meaning the U22 Azkals, who fell to fourth place after the breaking of ties, need more than a win against Timor Leste to qualify.

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