The Myanmar national football team’s first match against home team Japan at World Cup qualifiers is up in the air after a number of top players refused to play under the military regime.
With key team players including Kyaw Ko Ko, Zaw Min Tin and Aung Thu dropping out of the squad, the team has already delayed travel to Friday as it cannot currently field enough players for the Group F qualifiers in Japan’s Chiba prefecture set for May 28.
Defender Zaw Min Tun and striker Kyaw Ko Ko confirmed they will not participate, while striker Aung Thu is believed to remain on the fence.
“We accept their personal feelings, but we are also responsible for the game and subsequent generations,” coach Anthony Hey told AFP.
In April, Hantharwady United U-21 football team captain Chit Bo Nyein was shot dead by the military at a protest in Insein and MMA fighter Phoe Thaw was arrested earlier this month for allegedly making handmade bombs.
Team Myanmar is in Group F with Japan. Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and currently ranks fourth in the group with six points after five games.
On Saturday, the Myanmar Football Federation said the national team has decided to stay in the World Cup because of possible action by FIFA. It said that, according to the FIFA rules, if a participating team does not continue to compete in the tournament, all results will be canceled and international participation banned in the future.
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