Exclusive: Croatian coach picks Malaysia to defend ASEAN title

Kelantan head coach Bojan Hodak admits he cannot look past the Malayan Tigers and Thailand when it comes to choosing the next Suzuki Cup winners

Treble winning Kelantan coach, Bojan Hodak, is backing Malaysia to successfully defend their AFF Suzuki Cup title this year.

In 2010, Malaysia beat Indonesia 4-2 on aggregate in a keenly contested two-legged final to lift the regional championship for the first time in their history.

Hodak, who guided Kelantan to three domestic titles and a place in the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup this season, is firm in his belief that Malaysia is too strong a team for the other countries in their group. Datuk K.Rajagopal’s men have Laos and long-time rivals Singapore and Indonesia for company in Group B of the tournament.

“Malaysia is definitely one of the favourites, and for me they must reach the final,” Hodak told Goal.com Malaysia.

“I say this because I don’t think all the other teams are as good as Malaysia.”

The Croatian dismissed suggestions that the group billed as the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’ would be too difficult for Malaysia to navigate.

“To be honest I don’t think this group is tough at all because Indonesian football is in complete mess at the moment and Singapore’s best days are far behind them.”

“I think Malaysia will easily go through to the next round.

“If you go to the semi-finals then it always depends on who you get, but this Malaysian team won the last Suzuki Cup and I think they’ll get to the final, minimum.

“Maybe, only Thailand can challenge them,” opined the former UPB-My Team FC trainer.

The 47-year-old from Zagreb also believes Malaysia’s results in recent friendlies should not be given too much importance to and is confident the nation has got the players to take them all the way.

“These are only friendlies, when it comes to serious business, Malaysia will get the job done.

“I still think the current generation of footballers that Malaysia has got is the best in this region,” concluded the well-travelled Croat.

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