Myanmar’s football history began in 1947 when the national team appointed several foreign head coaches. Over the years, some foreign coaches brought success and some were sacked after less than five games.
Since then, the history of football at the national level has seen many foreign coaches come and go.
Myanmar was once a regional powerhouse in football.
It finished second in the 1968 Asian Cup and participated in the Summer Olympics in 1972.
The team was dominant in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s, winning the Asian Games twice in 1966 and 1970, and the football event of the Southeast Asian Games on five successive occasions: in 1965, 1967, 1969, 1971 and 1973.
Since then, Myanmar’s highest achievement is the silver medal in 1993. Myanmar played its first World Cup qualifiers in 2007.
The following profiles highlight the foreign coaches who have managed Myanmar’s national football team.
Bert Trautmann (German, 1972 – 1974)
Trautmann was a goalkeeper who played for Manchester City from 1949 to 1964. From 1972 to 1974, he served as the head coach. During his term, Myanmar won the Park Chung-hee Cup hosted by South Korea in 1972. Myanmar, Indonesia, Singapore and Philippines were in the same group. The game against the Philippines ended in a 1-1 draw and Myanmar beat Singapore 1-0. In the semi-final of the 1972 Park Chung-hee Cup, Myanmar beat South Korea 1-0. In the final contest, Myanmar beat Indonesia 3-1 to become champion.
Later, Trautmann worked as manager of the Libya, Pakistan and Tanzania national teams. He died in 2013 at age 89.
Ratomir Dujkovic (Yugoslavian, 1996 – 1997)
Dujikovic began working for Myanmar in 1996. Although his main target was the 1998 Asian Games, his plan was thwarted when the football team resigned from the Asian Games. Myanmar, UAE, North Korea and Bangladesh were in Group E of the 1998 Asian Games. Myanmar and Bangladesh resigned from the competition, so only North Korea and UAE played in Group E.
During his term, Myanmar did not participate in any major tournament. Later, he managed the Rwanda, Ghana and Syria national teams. He also managed China’s U-23 and Serbia’s U-21 teams. He retired from football in 2010.
David Booth (English, 2000 - 2003)
Many football fans still remember David Booth, who managed the national team and the Myanmar U-23 team.
After 1990, he is the longest serving manager for the national football team.
During his term, the national team participated in the 2000 Tiger Cup and 2002 Tiger Cup, and the Myanmar U-23 team played in the 2001 SEA Games and 2003 SEA Games.
His first international game for Myanmar was the 2000 Tiger Cup in which Myanmar beat the Philippines 3-0, but lost to Thailand 1-3, and was beaten by Indonesia 0-5.
He also managed the U-23 team that contested in the 2001 SEA Games. The U-23 team beat Laos 4-1, and beat Singapore 2-1. The game against Cambodia ended in goalless draw. The U-23 team was beaten 1-3 by Thailand, but the team reached the semi-finals. In the semi-finals, Myanmar was beaten 0-1 by Malaysia and in the third-place play-off, Myanmar beat Indonesia 1-0, winning a bronze medal.
In the 2002 Tiger Cup, the national team beat the Philippines 6-1 and beat Cambodia 5-0. Its game against Indonesia ended in a goalless draw, and it was beaten 2-4 by Vietnam, ending its challenge.
In the 2003 SEA Games, Myanmar beat Singapore 2-0 and beat Cambodia 6-0. It was beaten 2-3 by Malaysia, but reached the semi-finals where Myanmar was beaten 0-2 by Thailand. In the third-place play-off, Myanmar lost a penalty shoot-out to Malaysia.
Booth is now head coach of Lao Toyota FC and the Lao U-23 team.
Ivan Venkov Kolev (Bulgarian; 2004 – 2005)
During Kolev’s term, the national football team participated in the 2004 AFF Championship. In the group stage of the championship, Myanmar beat the Philippines 1-0, beat Malaysia 1-0 and beat Timor 3-1. Its game against Thailand ended in a one-all draw.
The Myanmar team faced Singapore in the semi-final. The semi-final played over two legs on a homeand-away format. On the first-leg, Myanmar used the KLFA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as its home ground because it could not host the game in Myanmar. On the first leg, Singapore beat Myanmar 4-3. On the second-leg played in Singapore, more than 15,000 Myanmar soccer fans packed the stadium to watch the match. On the second-leg, Myanmar players Yan Paing, Zaw Lin Tun and Moe Kyaw Thu were sent off, and Singapore beat Myanmar 4-2. In the game, some rulings by a Japanese referee were controversial and a violent brawl erupted between soccer fans.
Later, Ivan Kolev worked as head coach of Yangon United FC. He is currently head coach of Slavia Sofia in Bulgaria.
Marcos Falopa (Brazilian, 2007-2008)
Falopa arrived in Myanmar for a youth project. He was head coach of the Myanmar U-23 team that contested the 2007 SEA Games.
In that competition, Myanmar beat Thailand 2-3 in the group stage. It got a goalless draw against Indonesia, and it beat Cambodia 6-2. In the semi-final, Myanmar won a penalty shoot-out against Vietnam. In the final, it lost to Thailand 2-0, winning the silver medal.
If we say that 1993 was Myanmar football’s “silver-era,” we must say that Falopa’s U-23 team was a “second silver-era.”
Later, Falopa managed youth team in Italy, Brazil and India.
Drago Mamic (Croatian, 2009 – 2010)
Mamic managed the Myanmar U-23 team in the 2009 Laos SEA Games. Myanmar earned one-all draw against Laos, and it beat Indonesia 3-1. It was beaten 1-2 by Singapore, and failed to advance beyond the group stage.
Following the SEA Games, Mamic signed on as the head coach of the Maldives national team.
Milan Zivadinovic (Serbian, 2011)
Zivadinovic has the shortest time as a Myanmar football team coach. During his term, Myanmar played seven games, racking up two draws and five losses.
In the 2011 AFC Challenge Cup hosted by Myanmar, the team earned a one-all draw with the Philippines, but lost to Bangladesh and Palestine.
Park Sung-Hwa (South Korean, 2011 – 2013)
Football fans will never forget the Korean coach Park Sung-Hwa. He broke Myanmar football fans’ hearts in the 2013 SEA Games hosted by Myanmar, when he confessed he did not know about a rule which penalized the team.
In the 2012 Suzuki Cup, the national team earned a one-all draw against Vietnam, but it was beaten 0-4 by Thailand and 0-2 by the Philippines, failing to advance beyond the group stage.
In the SEA Games hosted by Myanmar, his U-23 team beat Timor 3-1 and Cambodia 3-0. The game against Thailand ended in a one-all draw. In the group’s last game, it was beaten 0-1 by Indonesia. Myanmar and Indonesia tied at second in the group stage, but Indonesia advanced on the head-to-head rule, and Myanmar failed to advance beyond the group stage.
Park Sung-Hwa now manages the South Korean football club Gyeongnam FC.
Radojko Avramovi (Serbian, 2014-2015)
With great hope, Myanmar appointed Avramovi as head coach but in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, the team failed to advance beyond the group stage. Similarly, the team failed to advance beyond the group stage in the 2014 Suzuki Cup. During his term, Myanmar won the Philippine Peace Cup. After Kuwait beat Myanmar 9-0 in a World Cup qualifier, he parted company with the Myanmar team.
Gerd Zeise (German, 2015 – to now)
Myanmar football fans are behind him because he brought the U-20 youth team to the U-20 World Cup. Since he was appointed head coach of the national team, football fans are excited to see what he can do.
Currently, the national team was beaten 0-5 by Hong Kong and 0-4 by South Korea. But his main target is the 2016 Suzuki Cup. We will have to see what the future holds.
Zeise, in an interview with FIFA.com, said the world knows about Myanmar football now.
“People are proud,” he said. “Football is becoming more and more popular here and has become the No. 1 sport – everyone here wants to play the game now.”