Thailand's Premier League club, BEC Tero Sasana, ended their run of friendly games in Myanmar by beating Yangon United FC 2-0 at the local club’s home stadium on February 27.
As a long-standing top level football club in Thailand, reaching eighth position in the league last season and two players selected for the national team, BEC Tero Sasana proved stiff competition for Myanmar teams.
Their first friendly was with Ayeyarwady United FC handing out a 5-1 drubbing at Yangon’s Aung San stadium on February 23.
They also went to Mandalay to play Yadanarbon FC on February 25, giving Mandalay spectators a chance to cheer Tero Sasana as the team’s owner, Mr Bryan Marker, was born in Mandalay.
The head coach, Mr Andrew Ord, had also previously worked as a youth academy director for Yangon United FC, giving them a slight advantage of some familiarity with Myanmar National League clubs.
YUFC were not well prepared for the match with the team losing four influential players in Kyi Lin, David Htan, Yan Aung Win and Kaung Si Thu to the national U-21 squad for the Brunei Cup. Another player, Khin Maung Lwin, was out injured.
“I am very upset about having to lose five players, four for Brunei and one injured,” the head coach of YUFC, Mr Eric Williams, said.
He also had an eye on the next MNL match against Yadanarbon FC as it is a crucial one for the league. Forced to prioritise, Mr Williams fielded a second string squad against BEC Tero Sasana.
“For us the more important thing is to win at Yadanarbon. That’s why I changed so many players,” he said.
Mr Ord also rested many of his regular players, giving chances to some of the team’s younger players.
“I used young players in the game because I would like to see them [in action]; I found them satisfactory,” he said.
With the absence of the wingers Kyi Lin and David Htan, YUFC’s left and right attacks were visibly blunted.
In midfield the players battled hard to keep possession in the face of sustained pressure from the Thai side but the difference between the teams was telling as YUFC struggled against Tero Sasana’s passing and teamwork.
It took 23 minutes for Ponlachai to head the ball into YUFCs net for the opening goal.
The second goal came late in the second half on 83 minutes when Cleiton Augusto rounded Saw El Htoo, YUFC’s goal keeper, and almost snatched a second when the keeper came rushing past his defenders to take on the forward.
YUFC did manage to pose a threat to Tero Sasana but couldn’t turn any chances into goals.
“We just couldn’t score today. We missed two sure chances in the first half and in the second too,” Mr Williams said.
After the game, Mr Ord said that if YUFC kept playing at the same standard, they could prove difficult opponents in the upcoming AFC cup.
However, YUFC’s first match in the competition, playing on March 7, is against Chonburi FC, runners-up in the Thai Premier League.
“Our club has two players selected for the national team whereas Chonburi has six and many experienced players. Yangon United will have to prepare well,” he said.
“I hope our players in the Brunei cup could come back for the match with Chonburi,” said Mr Williams, “but if the U-21 squad goes all the way to the semi-final, they won’t”.