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Women footballers suffer heartbreak but restore Burmese pride

The Burmese women’s football team collapsed in tears after losing a thrilling penalty shoot-out to Thailand on Wednesday night; however fans stayed on in the Mandalar Thiri stadium in Mandalay and cheered a team which had played their heart out and which lost by the narrowest of margins.

The heartbreak of losing in the SEA games semi-final was clear; just minutes earlier Burma had the chance to qualify but S.S. Maw’s penalty rebounded off the inside of the post, allowing Thailand a lifeline.

It was an enthralling game. Thailand took the lead in the first half but the Burmese women fought back bravely and M. Marri scored a controversial goal in the second half when a replay showed that her scrambled effort had crossed the line.

The game went into extra time and again the Thais took the lead. But despite wearing limbs and cold conditions, Burma rallied, cheered on by an excitable crowd which screamed the team on as the clock ticked down.

Then, with just five minutes remaining, Y.Y. Oo produced a lob which ricocheted off the underside of the bar and into the net. The stadium exploded and a delirious Y.Y. Oo was mobbed by players and officials alike.

So, after a 120-minute stalemate, the teams were forced to endure a nail-biting penalty shoot-out. Leading 9-8, the Thai keeper Boonsing dived low to her right and blocked Z.M. Win’s effort and suddenly it was all over. While the Thai women celebrated, the Burmese girls were inconsolable.

Tears flowed, but within the sobbing was a feeling that Burma’s national pride had been restored after the chaos that marked the exit of the men’s team two nights before.