Sport

Party Over for Burma’s Footballers as Ukraine Hit Them for Six

By Greg Stutchbury 2 June 2015

WELLINGTON — Burma’s under-20 World Cup “party” came to a crashing halt on Tuesday when they were hammered 6-0 by Ukraine, with all six goals coming in the second half, prompting the Asian side’s German coach to apologize to their fans.

Burma, which qualified for the tournament for the first time by reaching the Asian under-19 championships semifinals on home soil last year, had given the United States a massive fright in their opening game on Saturday before eventually losing 2-1.

They managed to hold Ukraine scoreless in the first half in Whangarei before the Europeans scored six in the second, with Shakhtar Donetsk’s Viktor Kovalenko grabbing a brace.

The scoreline could have been even worse had Pavlo Polehenko not missed a penalty after defender Thiha Htet Aung was sent off for a hand ball on the line.

“We must be realists, the party is over,” Burma’s coach Gerd Zeise told a media conference. “I must apologize to the Myanmar fans, I am responsible for this disaster, but I can’t turn a cyclist into a racing driver.”

Like many developing nations in Asia, world governing body FIFA has pumped money into the country and given more than US$1.1 million through its Goal program over the past five years to fund facilities and training programs for age-group players.

Burma’s qualification for the tournament in New Zealand was seen as proof the money was working.

Zeise, however, suggested the tournament, despite causing an outpouring of celebrations back home, had come too early for his side.

“Obviously we only had the power for one match. The European teams play in another league and we cannot follow,” he said.

“We are too blind and we do not have the experience, that’s absolutely clear.

“It was a disaster and this tournament has come too early for us. We cannot follow these teams, no chance.

“My team was too poor.”

Burma’s final game in the tournament is on Friday in Wellington against hosts New Zealand, who play the United States in Auckland later on Tuesday.

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