BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe is hoping that the fact that his charges are not playing on group matchday four in the 2018 AFF Championship will give them an advantage for their Saturday clash at home against Myanmar.
The new competition format has seen each group composed of five teams, meaning one team from each group will not have a match on each matchday.
On matchday four in Group A on Tuesday, it is the Harimau Malaya's turn to rest, while Myanmar host Vietnam and Cambodia entertain Laos.
Malaysia will next play Myanmar on the final group matchday, a match that they need to win in order to advance to the semi-finals, with Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia all tied on six points at the top at the moment. Myanmar meanwhile had their 'rest' on matchday one, and on Saturday they will be playing in their fourth consecutive match.
When met by the press before conducting training on Monday, Tan revealed his intent for the Saturday clash; to stick to their normal gameplan.
"We have to keep to our usual tactics and avoid conceding first.
"My men dominated possession in our last three matches, but what matters more is that the forwards improve on their finishing. They need to be more composed in the final third and they already know this," said the former Kedah coach.
But he is also hoping that the extra rest afforded to his side by the tournament fixtures will prove advantageous.
On top of this, he also gave his men a two-day rest from training last weekend.
"We have to take this advantage. A player's fitness level will surely be affected after playing in four matches in a row.
"The one-week gap from matches will surely give us an advantage," he remarked.
However, playing in front of their own fans at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in the match, he wants his men to avoid undue pressure.
"The players will surely be motivated playing at the Bukit Jalil, but I don't want it to go too far to the extent that they are under pressure, and can't perform well.
"But they should be fine, as they're already used to playing in front of sold-out crowds. The team thrives on this," said Tan.
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