Malaysia have travelled to Bangkok with the formidable task of defeating Thailand in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 semifinal, but their coach Tan Cheng Hoe is optimistic about his side’s chances of progressing.
Speaking at the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 pre-match press conference, the former Kedah FA coach said the Malaysian Tigers can overcome tournament favourites Thailand if they can maintain the momentum from the first leg held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
“As everyone knows, my team gave our best in the first leg at home. Although we couldn’t manage to score, we were happy with our performances,” said Tan on the eve of the second leg at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.
“We are confident that we can maintain that momentum when the second leg takes place at the Rajamangala Stadium on Wednesday. I believe we will beat Thailand and get a good result for all the Malaysian fans,” the Malaysia coach said.
Malaysia spurned a handful of chances to manage a goalless draw against the War Elephants at Kuala Lumpur, but will have to be at the top of their game again when they face Thailand in front of the Thai fans at the Rajamangala.
“We are aware how good Thailand are when they play at home. Their squad is also strong — not only No 9 (Adisak Kraisorn), No 29 (Sanrawat Dechmitr) , No 22 (Supachai Jaided) or No 14 (Nurul Sriyankem). Everybody has potential. However, our team have a great desire and I believe we can do it together,” said Tan.
With matches coming thick and fast in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018, the Malaysia gaffer knows he will have to manage his squad wisely. He also has to guide his young players who will play one of the biggest matches of their careers yet and is expecting help from the senior pros in the team.
“Some players have minor injuries, while some youngsters come to Thailand for the first time. But I think the more experienced players will be able to reduce the pressure on the rising stars,” he said.
Tan also expects his side to be more clinical in the second leg. “For Wednesday’s game, if there are opportunities to score, we have to take it. Being the visiting team is always difficult, but we will do whatever it takes to get the results we need,” he said.
(Photo credit: Football Association of Thailand)