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A Korean soap opera in Burmese football

Former Burmese men's football coach Park Sung-Hwa (PHOTO: SEA Games)

Burma has parted company with football coach Park Sung-Hwa following the debacle of losing to Indonesia on Monday night and an admission by the Korean that he had not comprehended that Burma needed to avoid defeat in order to qualify for the semi-finals.

The Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) has now announced the dismissal of Park who was reportedly being paid US$50,000- $60,000 per month to manage the men’s national team. His firing comes just two weeks ahead of the end of his two-year contract with the Federation.

“He [Park] will no longer be Myanmar’s football coach although his contract finishes at the end of this month, and he will not enjoy any remuneration for the rest of the contract time. He also accepts the responsibility and has resigned voluntarily [sic]. We will not have anything to do with him anymore,” said Soe Moe Kyaw, Burma’s Under-23s manager.

According to the SEA Games website on Wednesday, the MMF also confirmed rumours that Kyaw Ko Ko, who had been left out of the starting line-up against Indonesia for criticizing Park’s techniques, had to plead with the coach to be allowed to play. “The head of the federation urged Kyaw Ko Ko to apologize to him [Park] and then he was allowed to play in the second half,” Soe Moe Kyaw is quoted as saying.

In an interview with The Irrawaddy, the president of the MFF, Zaw Zaw, said that Park’s claim that he was not told about the head-to-head qualification rule was untrue.

“The Asian Football Federation, all the coordinators and the translator in team acknowledged the ruling – even the 30,000 audience was aware of it, so it is impossible for the coach to be unaware of it,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Zaw Zaw went on to say that the South Korean liked to run things his own away and was completely hostile to suggestions and interference from others.

“Prior to the match with Indonesia, I personally told him [Park] to treat the match as a final and to prepare as well as possible because football can be unpredictable,” the MFF president said. “He responded to me through the translator to ‘rest assured’ that ‘nothing can go wrong’.”

Zaw Zaw has also come out in support of the infuriated Burmese fans who were arrested after going on a rampage following Monday night’s disaster.

“I am personally making a request to release the fans who were detained in the [rioting] incident which was unintentional. They did it for the love of football. It happened because of national spirit, and I will not be able to sleep as long as they are locked up,” he is cited as saying by The Voice Weekly.

Zaw Zaw, a charismatic Burmese tycoon, reportedly gave 50,000 kyat (US$50) to eight of the rioters who were detained in the post-match riot; a ninth detainee he gave 100,000 kyat to reimburse his travel costs to Mandalay.

Burma’s football aficionados will now turn their attention to the women’s team which plays in the semi-final of the SEA Games tournament against Thailand on Wednesday night in Mandalay.

For the latest on the SEA Games go to: www.27seagames2013.com