Ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup in Maldives, we will be previewing each of the 8 teams that will participate for a chance to reach the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia. Click on the links below to see each team’s preview, once available:
Monday, May 19th (Malé) – Maldives
Wednesday, May 21st (Malé) – Palestine
Friday, May 23rd (Addu City) – Kyrgyzstan
You can also check out our Predictions Page to see our projected winners in each match.
Myanmar are somewhat of an enigma coming into the final edition of the AFC Challenge Cup. Having played only two friendlies since their Challenge Cup qualification round last March, Myanmar do not have much preparation heading into training camp. The White Angels have since played home matches to Singapore and Hong Kong, failing to score in either match.
Side note, can we start a petition to rename Myanmar from the White Angels to the Pythons? I think it’s totally ridiculous that they do not capitalize on the native Burmese Pythons. It’s a tremendous marketing opportunity, dare I say, waiting in the wings!
Headed into their qualification group, we touted Myanmar as the group favorite and expected them to advance ahead of regional giant India. This was not met with much appreciation from our India followers, and We Global was immediately blasted following the posting of one of our first blogs. However, our prediction came to fruition. Myanmar defeated India 1-0 in the penultimate match of qualifying group A.
This will be Myanmar’s 3rd appearance in the Challenge Cup. They also qualified for the 2008 and 2010 editions, finishing 4th on both occasions. Unfortunately for the Myanma, they have not traveled well over the course of the past few years. Dating back to June 2011, Myanmar has played 8 games at away or neutral locations. They posted two 1-1 draws and 6 shutout losses in those matches. Luckily for them, qualifying was at home. The Challenge Cup Finals will prove to be a stern test.
Before the Tournament
In a not so surprising move, Myanmar have scheduled warm-up friendlies in the familiar surroundings of Yangon. They will be hosting two Challenge Cup qualifiers in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan before traveling to the Maldives for the Finals. We can surmise that given their track record at home, this is an effort to boost the squads’ confidence before their Group A slate. Our predictor likes the road team in both of these match-ups, so a positive result against either will surely do that. Myanmar could most certainly see either of those sides in the knockout stage of the tournament.
According to the Federation’s Facebook page, the White Angels played a Singapore Lions XI team today and notched a 2-1 victory. It is difficult to say whether or not this was against a full strength Singapore team, so this result should be taken with a grain of salt.
The draw was not kind to Myanmar this time around. Our predictor has them ranked 4th out of the 4 teams in group A, and must face host Maldives in their opening match. If they are to have a shot at surviving the group, points from this match are essential. Palestine and Kyrgyzstan represent a step up in competition and will most likely give Myanmar a difficult time in both matches.
For historical context, Myanmar has never lost to the Maldives. They have won all 3 previous matches against the island nation, but have not played since 2003.
They have not fared as well against Palestine, losing their only match up to date 3-1 back in 2011 in Yangon.
There is also no history between Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan. Their Group A match will be their first ever meeting.
As with any tournament, points in the first match are crucial to a team’s advancement chances. Given that they are playing the weakest of their opponents first, the opportunity is ripe for the taking. Myanmar will have to dramatically change their recent away form if they seek to raise the Challenge Cup.
Our xCro simulation was not kind to the White Angels (I want to type Pythons so bad). We are giving them a 21% chance of surviving the group and moving on to the knockout stages. In a majority of the simulations, Myanmar finished dead last. In all honesty, their warm up friendlies will be a massive indication of how this team will fare. If you check back next week and see they got hammered in both games, the arrow on Myanmar will be pointing way down. However, a few positive results could get the juices flowing and sending Myanmar trending upwards.
We think Myanmar will struggle and will ultimately finish in 4th place in Group A.
Projected Group Finish: 4th