As expected Aidil Zafuan started for Malaysia in the international friendly against Sri Lanka and helped Harimau Malaya to their first clean sheet in five matches in that 6-0 trashing at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Saturday. Paired with Shahrul Saad in the centre of Malaysia's defence, Aidil brought the calm back into the defensive shape of the team.
Obviously with six goals scored in the match, Aidil had plenty to praise on the attacking side of things as four different goalscorers found the back of the net. It was a match fully controlled from the first whistle to the last by the home side but the 32-year-old knows clearly that the situation is unlikely to be the same when Malaysia take to the field at My Dinh Stadium on Thursday.
"I see that there's a difference to our attack. We are faster but at the same time we are confident to hold the ball and not rush things. That are the improvements that I can see in the team. But of course there are also negative things that we can work on. We cannot be too comfortable with what we achieved against Sri Lanka.
"Vietnam's style and Sri Lanka's style are very different. We cannot assume it can go the same way in the next match. But the win is good for the confidence and momentum for the players before we face Vietnam. Our target for the next game is not to be defeated. It won't be easy to play away but we will try to find the early goal and as a defender, I just have to make sure we don't concede," said Aidil after the match.
That Aidil's return looked to be an easy transition is too surprising considering the fact that he's playing alongside familiar faces. He partnered Shahrul during the 2018 AFF Championship but more importantly is also playing beside Johor Darul Ta'zim team mates in Farizal Marlias and La'Vere Corbin-Ong in Malaysia's defence.
Vietnam has thus far only played one match in the 2022 World Cup qualifications in Group G where they earned a creditable 0-0 draw away to Thailand last month. In the match Vietnam fielded Nguyen Van Toan, Nguyen Tien Linh and Nguyen Quang Hai in attack, and those are the players that Aidil will have to deny in the next match in Hanoi.
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