BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Ahead of their Group G World Cup qualification opener away to Indonesia on Thursday, Malaysia boss Tan Cheng Hoe has reminded everyone that the attention must always remain on the action on the pitch.
Speaking in the pre-match press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday, the 51-year old head coach remarked that it is imperative that the encounter produced is an entertaining one, even though it will be a hotly-contested tie.
"I'm very happy to be here in the World Cup qualifiers. I'm sure both sides are ready and looking forward for the match. All of my players are fit and eager to play in the match.
"Much has been said about the atmosphere expected tomorrow, but my players know that they need to perform well regardless. But more importantly, it's important for the teams to produce an enjoyable game, while avoiding anything that can result in incidents such as red cards. Football must come first for me.
"I think the media is focusing too much on the element of rivalry, while we should remember to concentrate on what's going to happen on the pitch. We need to understand and respect each other, and remember that we are opponents, not enemies. We're practically the same people after all, aren't we?" he noted.
He is also eager to upset the odds at the match venue, the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium, where Malaysia have not beaten Indonesia in 12 years.
"Sure, the record between the two teams at this stadium favours Indonesia. However, we need to ignore that for the time being.
"It's a different head coach, different players. My players will give their best and are intent on coming away with a positive result in the campaign opener."
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