Before the tournament started, Aidil Zafuan had in his mind that this could possibly be his last AFF campaign and there was a steely desire in him to make this potentially last one, the best one. His determination and willpower for the country's cause was evident especially when he fought his way back from a hamstring injury to feature in the final.
Against all odds the 31-year-old battled his way back to full fitness ahead of the second leg in Hanoi despite only having a week to recover from his injury. He lasted 75 minutes of the return leg and fought bravely to deny Nguyen Anh Duc and co.
But Aidil's best and Malaysia's best were not enough to prevent Vietnam from lifting their second AFF trophy in their history as the visitors bowed out with a 3-2 aggregate score. The centre back was apologetic afterwards that he could not help to fulfil the dreams of Malaysian fans.
"First of all I want to thank the players and my team mates for giving their 100% in the final. This is football, we couldn't get over the line but whatever it the outcome, we have already tried our best in the match as well as the entire campaign."
"Who knew that Malaysia who wasn't one of the favourites, could have gone all the way to the final. We gave it our all and maybe it's our fate to only be in second place. For that, I'm thankful in a way. I would also like to express my gratitude to the fans who came a long way.
"We appreciate all their support and we're sorry for not being able to bring the cup back," said Aidil after the final.
After decade of international football, Aidil has not completely closed his option to play again at this level. Having played for various national team head coaches, Aidil is the right man to speak up about what Tan Cheng Hoe has done with this team.
The head coach's contract is up at the end of December 2018 and there hasn't been any talk yet about him continuing in his current role. For Aidil, it's a no-brainer. He truly believes in the capabilities of Cheng Hoe and is putting his support firmly behind motion that the former Kedah head coach need to have his contract extended.
"The target set for us by the our president was to reach the final and that is what we have managed to achieve. No one gave us a chance but we did it. Coach Tan has done what he could and reached our target, just that we couldn't be the champions."
"I hope he will be retained as the head coach. Even if I'm no longer in the squad, I think Coach Tan still deserve to get the opportunity to carry on his work," he added.
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