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Myanmar to host Grand Royal Challenge Cup soccer tournament
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Myanmar to hold the 2008 Grand Royal Challenge Cup soccer tournament here in November to gear up for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship to be held in Thailand and Indonesia in December, according to the Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) Saturday.

Two soccer teams from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Malaysia and Indonesia, have already confirmed to take part in the third edition slated for Nov. 9-15, and the MFF has sent invitation letters to two more teams, Bangladesh and a South Korean club, to vie for the tournament, it said.

At the 2005 edition here in November 2005, four teams -- China's U-19, India's U-19, Bangladesh's selection (with an average age between 23 and 25) and host Myanmar's U-23 -- competed at the tournament and Myanmar beat Bangladesh 2-1 after extra time to win the trophy.

The Myanmar national football team beat the Myanmar U-23 team 3-2 in the final and triumphed at the 2006 tournament in the second largest city of Mandalay, 640 kilometers north of Yangon in December 2006, participated by four teams -- Indonesian U-23, Malaysian U-23, Myanmar U-23 and Myanmar national team.

Meanwhile, Myanmar national soccer team, coached by Brazilian Marcos Antonio Falopa, will take part for the first time in the forthcoming TP.HCM Cup Invitational soccer tournament at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from Oct. 1 to 5, participated by four soccer teams, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, host Vietnam and South Korea University selections. It will be the third appearance for the Myanmar team under Falopa and also its third international competition in this year.

Myanmar participated in the AFC Challenge Cup tournament in Hyderabad, India, from July 30 to Aug. 13, beat Nepal and Sri Lanka 3-0 and 3-1 respectively and lost to DPR Korea 1-0 in Group B. Myanmar was defeated by India 1-0 in the semifinal and lost again to DPR Korea 4-0 in the third-place playoff to finish fourth.

Myanmar also finished fourth in the Indonesia Independence Invitational Cup tournament in Jakarta from Aug. 21 to 29. Myanmar crushed Cambodia 7-1 and lost 4-0 to Indonesia in the group stage and was defeated 5-3 by Libya U-23 in the semifinals and 1-0 by Indonesian U-21 in the third-place playoff.

Brazilian Falopa, a technical director of the Brazil Coach Football Federation and had worked as a technical director in European, African, Asian and Latin American countries, arrived here again in June to coach again the Myanmar national soccer team after reaching agreement with the Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) to extend the contract to rehandle the team.

Falopa, 59, who first arrived here in April 2007 for one-year contract agreed with the MFF and returned to Brazil on leave a few days after the 24th SEA Games, could make the Myanmar national team finishing runners-up in both the 39th Merdeka football tournament in Malaysia in August and the 24th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Thailand in December 2007, but failed to make it winning in home and away qualifying matches with China for the 2010 World Cup last year. Myanmar lost to China 7-0 in the away match and 4-0 in the home match.

Myanmar will also compete in two other tournaments abroad this year, the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia in October and the AFF Championship in Thailand and Indonesia in December.

With a glorious history in Asian soccer, Myanmar's national senior team had won five times ASEAN champions from 1965 to 1973 and claimed the Asian Games title in 1966 and 1970.

(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2008)

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