SEA Games: Thais not afraid of fanatical Myanmar support at football final

Myanmar footballer Zaw Hein Thiha (centre) celebrating with fans after his country's shock 2-1 win over Vietnam in the SEA Games men's football semi-finals at the National Stadium on June 13, 2015. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE SEA GAMES ORGANISING COMMITTEE/A
Myanmar footballer Zaw Hein Thiha (centre) celebrating with fans after his country's shock 2-1 win over Vietnam in the SEA Games men's football semi-finals at the National Stadium on June 13, 2015. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE SEA GAMES ORGANISING COMMITTEE/ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Thailand enter Monday's SEA Games football final against Myanmar as overwhelming favourites to retain their crown, backed by a playing style that has devastated their opponents and delighted their fans.

They have notched 21 goals in six matches, most impressively in a 5-0 whitewash of Indonesia in the semi-finals on Saturday. But they face perhaps their biggest challenge yet - and it is not even on the field.

Myanmar's passionate supporters have been a key factor behind the country's fairytale run all the way to the final. The 20,000-strong faithful transformed the National Stadium in Kallang into an ear-splitting cacophony of noise in the 2-1 upset of Vietnam in the semis.

Tickets for Monday's clash at the 55,000-capacity venue are sold out.

Myanmar coach Kyi Lwin refers to the fanatics as his "secret weapon", saying: "With their amazing support, our players believe we can win the gold (for the first time since 1973)."

But, speaking at the pre-match press conference on Sunday, his Thai counterpart Choketawee Promrut was not worried.

The former defender, who played in the S-League for the likes of Tampines Rovers and Gombak United, said: "Our Thai fans will come to support us too. Don't forget that we can make noise too. My team will do their best to make sure Myanmar fans have little to cheer about."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg

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