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Coach’s embarrassing blunder costs Burma the semi-finals

Video: Burmese fans run riot after Burma’s 1-0 defeat to Indonesia

The head coach of the Burmese men’s football team, Park Sung-Hwa, said at a press conference after Burma’s 1-0 defeat to Indonesia on Monday that he was not aware the match was a head-to-head.

According to the Kyemon Daily, the Korean admitted he only realised his team would be knocked out when, in the 90th minute, he saw an Indonesian player celebrating.

“I was occupied with thoughts on who we would be facing next in the tournament in the semi-final and was not paying full attention to the match at hand,” said Park.

“I only realised about the head-to-head rule near the end of the game. I am the sole person responsible for this defeat,” the newspaper reported him saying.

Park Sung-Hwa, who has been coaching the team for four years, decided to use reserve players for the match and rest his best players, including Kyaw Ko Ko, considered the team’s fiercest attacker.

The head-to-head ruling means that in the event that two teams are drawn in points – as in the case of Indonesia and Burma, each finishing with seven points – the team that won the match between the two qualifies, in this case Indonesia.

When it became clear that Indonesia were going through to the semi-finals, many in the crowd turned hostile and started to rip up stadium chairs, and set fire to their shirts. Two fans managed to run onto the pitch but were taken away by security guards.

Outside the stadium, hoards of incensed Burmese fans gathered in the streets and began chanting and throwing stones at riot police.

A fire was started near the East Gate of the stadium and SEA Games-related billboards were set on fire and destroyed.

Riot police moved in at 9:45pm and started making arrests. There were injuries reported on both sides.

In the aftermath of the match, Burmese players and officials will also be licking their wounds; for coach Park, surely an alternative job is beckoning.