Malaysia may be underdogs but TCH wants team to revel in opportunity

Tan Cheng Hoe, Malaysia, AFF Championship, 24112018
Tan Cheng Hoe is not hiding behind the fact that Thailand will go into the semi-final encounter as favourites but warn that the tie is far from over.

The pain from four years ago when Malaysia miraculously clawed their way back from a two-goal deficit to lead in the final, before eventually succumbing to late goals from Thailand in the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup is still fresh in the memory and four year later, the two team are set to lock horn once again.

After Thailand handed a 3-0 beating to Singapore to clinch their place as champions of Group B, it meant that Malaysia will face The War Elephants in the two-legged semi-final with the first leg being played in Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 1st December.

Cheng Hoe may not have sent a scout to watch Thailand play but has nonetheless poured through countless views of their matches in the group stage under the guidance of Milovan Rajevac. The Malaysia head coach is under no illusion of the task that his team face over the next 180 minutes.

"We've looked at their videos from the group stage. Even though they don't have their big stars, they are still strong from the back to the front. The quality of Thailand is different and they are composed in their game because of their experience." 

"They have really good players and we must make sure that we don't lose focus. We need to be more aggresive in our defending because Adisak is a very dangerous player who can exploit half chances.

"We have four days to prepare. There was a big relieve after we got through to the semi-final and some pressure is off the players. We want to do well but at the same time I also the players to enjoy the full crowd and atmosphere on Saturday," said Cheng Hoe before Malaysia's training on Monday.

Adisak Kraisorn

As five times champions of the AFF and reigning champions for the past two editions, Thailand have left some of their big stars like Chanatip Songkrasin, Theerathon Bunmathan and Teerasil Dangdao out of the this tournament in view of their participation in the 2019 Asian Cup.

However even without their big names, it does not seem to hamper their progress in the competition. Three wins, a draw and scoring 15 goals in the process means they remains as strong and dangerous as ever. 

"We are underdogs. Even before we kick off the Suzuki Cup campaign, I've mentioned that we are the underdogs. As we know, it's not easy this journey to reach the semi-final but the players showed character in every game." 

"Against Thailand, who are the strongest team in the region, I'm still hopeful that we can give a strong performance this Saturday if we show our true character. Thailand have the upper hand over the years but we cannot be burdened by past results. I've always said that if you have self believe, you can overcome any obstacle," added Cheng Hoe.

With the second leg being played at Rajamangala Stadium on 5 December, it will be hard to shake off the feeling that Malaysia will need a comfortable win in Kuala Lumpur to stand a chance of progressing to the final.


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