Last-Gasp Burma Ties Cambodia 3-3 to Top SEA Games Group

By Andrew D. Kaspar 11 June 2015

RANGOON — Burma scored two goals in three minutes to come back from the brink of defeat in the dying minutes of its Southeast Asia Games football match against Cambodia on Wednesday, securing a dramatic 3-3 draw and with it, a first place finish in the competition’s group stage.

A win over the Philippines on Sunday had already guaranteed Burma a spot in the semifinals and the U-23 footballers looked complacent in the early going, with Cambodian forward Sokpheng Keo striking first in the 26th minute at Singapore’s Jalan Besar Stadium.

A handball inside the 18-yard box brought underdog Cambodia to the penalty spot and left Burma looking vulnerable to a two-goal deficit as halftime approached. Vathanaka Chan tried for the lower left corner but was denied by Burmese goalkeeper Aung Wai Phyo, whose valiant save would prove to be all for naught after he fouled Vathanaka in a scramble for the ensuing loose ball. Vathanaka went left again on his mulligan from 12 yards out, this time besting the Burmese keeper to make it 2-0 at the half.

Burma’s Zaw Thiha slotted one home from inside the six-yard box in the 53rd minute, but Cambodia responded just a few minutes later when Sokpheng caught Aung Wai Phyo wrong-footed with a header that snuck inside the far post to extend the Khmers’ lead to 3-1.

As the clock ticked down and defeat looked all but assured, substitute Kaung Sat Naing made a neat turn in the 89th minute and fired a shot toward the far post past Cambodian goalkeeper Serei Rath Um to inject new life into the campaign. Si Thu Aung, who also started the match on Burma’s bench, then latched onto a ball that sailed across the 18-yard box to level the score in stoppage time.

With three previous wins and Wednesday’s draw, Burma finished Group A at the top of the table on 10 points. Indonesia and Singapore will face off on Thursday for second place in the group.

Burma is due to play Vietnam on Saturday for a chance at the 28th SEA Games gold medal match on June 15.