AFC - Myanmar made a dream start and then withstood periods of heavy pressure to secure a crucial 2-0 win over a determined Islamic Republic of Iran in their AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018 qualifying opener on Monday.
First half goals to July Kyaw and Win Theingi Tun proved decisive as the Southeast Asian side took three early Group D points and a major step on the road to next year’s finals in Jordan.
Myanmar coach Roger Reijners utilised a formation featuring two advanced wingers, and the tactic paid dividends after only five minutes, Win Theingi Tun finding space on the right to tee up Kyaw for a simple close range header.
It was a nightmare start for Iran who were playing their first competitive international match in two years, but Maryam Azmoun’s side grew in confidence as the game went on, and began to produce chances of their own.
Deployed in a deep-lying playmaker role, Fatemeh Geraeli was at the heart of the Iranian resistance, as her technique and composure continued to unlock openings and create problems for the Myanmar defence.
But despite her growing influence, Myanmar found a second goal in the third and final minute of first half stoppage time, with the classy Tun on hand to double their lead from close range after Iran had failed to clear a loose ball.
Khin Moe Wai spurned a gilt-edged chance to put Myanmar 3-0 up when she missed from close range on 68 minutes, before Iran rallied in search of a way back into the encounter.
The best chances fell to Zahra Ghabari who found herself on the end of a series of neatly constructed moves, and she came closest to narrowing the gap when her bullet header went narrowly wide of Mya Phu Ngon’s goal with eight minutes remaining.
Iran will look to bounce back from the defeat against Singapore on Wednesday, while Myanmar can enjoy a rest on Matchday Two, before returning to take on the same opposition on Friday.
Myanmar coach Roger Reijners:
“It’s the first match of a tournament, and its always a difficult match. You get nervous, there’s pressure. We have to do some work, but we won.”
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