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Old November 11, 2008, 07:22 PM
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Shehwar Shehwar is offline
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Grand Royal Challenge Cup
Bangladesh hold hosts

Sports Reporter

Bangladeshi footballers look to the national colours at the gallery as team mascots guide them to the pitch for the 3rd Grand Royal Challenge Cup opener against hosts Myanmar at the Thuwanna Youth Training Centre in Yangon yesterday. Photo: BFF
Bangladesh held Myanmar to a goalless draw in the opening match of the 3rd Grand Royal Challenge Cup football tournament in Yangon yesterday.

A 15,000-strong home crowd was frustrated as the home team, who had beaten Bangladesh 1-0 in the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia last month, failed to repeat the act against Shafiqul Islam Manik's tight defensive unit at the Thuwanna Youth Training Centre Stadium.

There was, however, no sign of the warlike tension between the two nations when the match started with the day temperature rising under a cloudy sky.

Myanmar got an excellent one-on-one chance after three minutes but Bangladeshi goalkeeper Aminul made the first of a series of saves in the game.

Manik started with a 5-4-1 line-up with Emily as lone striker but he failed to reach midfielder Zahid Hossain's 22nd minute lob from the right flank.

It was the only attacking effort the visitors had made during the first half, which saw them lose rightback Ariful walk out with an ankle injury in the 36th minute.

Manik, however, replaced the defender with a striker in Robin, the first of a couple of changes for the 2005 Challenge Cup runners-up.

Aminul once again came into play in the 48th minute when he gripped a dangerous cross by Myanmar skipper Soe Myat Min, who had scored their lone goal in the Merdeka Cup against Bangladesh.

Mamun replaced Bangladesh captain Matiur Munna after 69 minutes and three minutes later, Sharif released an excellent cross for Emily, whose header was parried by Aung Aung Oo at the Myanmar goal.

Myanmar, 157 in the FIFA rankings to Bangladesh's 179, mounted heavy pressure in search of a goal but Aminul was at his best, foiling three rival efforts in succession.

After a rather subdued first half performance, Manik's boys looked more attacking in the second half, which also allowed the opposition to open up with counter attacks. But both sides lacked finishing.

For Bangladesh, who play Indonesia in their second and last group match tomorrow, defenders Rajani and Sujan and midfielders Sharif and Mamun showed tremendous form.

Myanmar's Zaw Lynn Tun was adjudged man of the match although the local press voted Aminul as the sentimental hero of the game.

"In the Merdeka Cup, we got many chances against Myanmar but couldn't score and this time, Myanmar got many chances but couldn't score," commented Bangladesh coach Manik after the match.

"The national team had only three day's preparation for this tournament but we played better in the second half," the former national footballer added.

Myanmar's Brazilian Marcos Antonio Falopa praised Bangladesh's performance after the 0-0 draw.

"The Bangladeshi players are strong and have good physic and they really played good today. We got many chances but failed to convert them. May be they will play better in the next match," said Falopa.

About 20 Bangladeshi fans enjoyed the game with the national colours and the Bangladesh Ambassador to Myanmar Maj Gen Abu Roshde Rokonuddawla met with the players before a brief opening ceremony.

Myanmar Sports Minister and president of Myanmar Olympic Committee Tha Ya Age Myint declared the six-nation meet open as chief guest.

Myanmar Football Association president U Zaw Zaw was also present.

Aminul, Arif (Robin 36), Nazrul, Rajani, Sujan, Waly Faisal, Arman Aziz, Sharif, Zahid Hossain, Matiur Munna (Mamun 69) and Emily.
MYANMAR: Aung Aung Oo, Min Thu, Zaw Lynn, Khin Maung, Moe Win, Aung Myo, Myo Min Tun, Yaza Win Thein, Paing Soe, Soe Myat Min and Yan Paing.

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