Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shukor v Soe

Shukor (left) and Soe Myat Min. Pic New Straits Times

Malaysian skipper Shukor Adan, the Malaccan-born midfielder whose footballing skills were nurtured by Negeri Sembilan, must keep an eye on his counterpart from Myanmar, Soe Myat Min, in tonight's Merdeka Tournament semi-final at the National Stadium.

Shukor has intimate knowledge of Soe's influence on his team mates as they have crossed swords numerous times before. In the 2001 SEA Games, for instance, Shukor and Malaysia handed Soe a semi-final defeat thanks to a solitary goal from Nizaruddin Yusof.

If Shukor stokes the engine room with his surging runs, Soe is the soul of the Myanmar team with his tireless running, ball-winning ability and nose for goals. It was Soe who produced the winning goal for Myanmar in the 2006 semi-final at Shah Alam Stadium, and it was Soe who galvanised his team to a 3-2 win over Allan Harris' Malaysia in the pre-Asian Cup in Bahrain in 2003.

Read the New Straits Times here and the preview in the Star here

But I pick Malaysia based on the form they have showed thus far.

Formation: 4-4-2
Strengths: Well-organised outfit, with nice inter-play involving the engine room and the forward-line. Homeground advantage is usually a plus, illustrated by the fact Malaysia have held Asian giants Iraq and Bahrain to draws on the same pitch in recent years.
Weaknesses: Good approach work either through the middle or the flanks but often letdown by poor finishing.
Key players: Shukor Adan, Safee Sali, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak

Formation: 4-5-1
Strengths: Myanmar base their game on the towering presence of Yan Paing as their focal point of attack, with quick support from a five-man midfield.
Weaknesses: Myanmar often resort to a robust game to unsettle their opponents. Tactically wanting on a few occasions so far, they could rue the absence of their first-choice target man Yan Paing who will sit out the match after he was given the marching orders against Mozambique.

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