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Phnom Penh: China PR easily booked their spot in the AFC U-19 Championship 2018 Finals in Indonesia when they beat Myanmar 1-0 in their final Group G qualifying match at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on Saturday.

Liu Ruofan, who netted a brace in his team’s 6-0 win over the Philippines in their second match, scored China’s only goal in the 38th minute.

Finding himself unmarked in the box, the striker sent a stiff shot that left goalkeeper Thet Paing Hwte completely flat-footed. 

China, who needed only a point to qualify after beating Cambodia 1-0 in their opener, made their intentions clear from the get-go when coach Jia Xiuquan played a 4-4-2 formation.

This effectively blunted the Myanmar attack, who were on fire during their team’s 6-0 defeat of the Philippines on Matchday One. 

Yeerfan Yezimujiang, who scored a hat-trick against the Philippines, came close to adding another goal to his tally in the 14th minute.

With the keeper caught off-position and an open goalmouth waiting, Yezimujiang sent his shot wide. 

Myat Kaung Khant, the hat-trick hero against the Philippines, was largely subdued, with only one shot at goal in the 50th minute.

He was subsequently substituted in the 63rd minute.

China were content to keep possession of the ball in the last 20 minutes, and brought in defender Jin Haoxiang in the 85th minute to further frustrate the Myanmarese.

Despite four minutes of time added on and throwing everything they had at their opponents, Myanmar failed to make any headway against the Chinese defensive wall.

Jia Xiuquan: China PR head coach

“It was an exciting match, and both teams did their best to win. My players put in a lot of effort, and gave their all to ensure we qualified for the finals in Indonesia next year. I am happy with the team’s performance and the way they improved from match to match despite the huge pressure they were facing.

“At this age group, all our opponents (Cambodia, the Philippines and Myanmar) have the same competency. I can’t say we faced any weak teams during the qualifiers as all of them were equally strong.”
Chit Naing: Myanmar head coach

“We tried our best and had our chances, but the Chinese defence proved too strong. We made only one mistake, and paid dearly for it. But I’m happy with the way the team played. We tried to find the space to play long balls, but the Chinese had the height and strength advantage.” 

Cambodia, who went into their match against the Philippines knowing that a draw would give them second place in Group G, had to settle for exactly that at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on Saturday.

The hosts, who lost their opening match 1-0 to China and defeated Myanmar 3-2 in their second, played to a scoreless draw despite turning on the heat in the second half.

Sin Kakada, who scored with two superb free-kicks against Myanmar, Seth Mannsouth and Sieng Chanthea all came close on several occasions, only to be thwarted either by second-choice keeper Jessie Reil Semblante or the woodwork and some poor finishing on their part.

The Philippines, looking to redeem themselves after 6-0 drubbings at the hands of China and Myanmar, played like a team transformed.

Strikers Mariano Suba Jr and Joshua Brocen and captain Jericho Sinconiegue proved constant thorns to their opponents with their speed and turn of pace but couldn't find a way through the Cambodian defence.

Cambodia will now have to wait until all group qualifiers are concluded to see if they’re placed among the five best second-placed teams to advance to the Finals. 

Jose Maria Aberasturi: Philippines head coach

“The players followed the plan, which was to contain Sin Kakada, Sieng Chanthea and Teat Kimheng, who are all very good and dangerous players. The defence played very well, and this is the best we’ve been among all three qualifying matches. Cambodia are a very good team. They just keep running and running, and my players couldn't keep up, which explains all the substitutions in the second half. We only had less than a week of training, and so I’m quite pleased with how the qualifiers turned out.”

Inoue Kazunori: Cambodia head coach

“We expected a win and three points to have a better chance of qualifying for the Finals, so a draw is a regrettable result. But my players tried their best. We are still weak in the basics such as ball control, passing and finishing. We had many chances, but failed to convert them. We need to rectify these weaknesses to obtain better results. Over the course of the three games, I can't say we have been playing as well as we should as we keep losing many balls. But again, I must say the players did their best.”

Photos: AFC