If there is an apt term to describe Malaysia in this edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup, it would be 'comeback kings'. Indeed it must be said that Tan Cheng Hoe's Harimau Malaya have a never-say-die attitude which has seen them entered the final of this competition.
Whether this crop of players will be able to repeat the triumph of the 2010 side remains to be seen but one can be assured that this Malaysia team will not give up till the final whistle. Last night against Vietnam, Malaysia's mental strength was in full display as they came back twice after the Golden Dragons had scored two goals.
Significantly the Bukit Jalil Stadium provided a rip-roaring atmosphere and the fans of Harimau Malaya never stopped singing and believing as they cheered their team on relentlessly. If the fans never stopped believing, then the same can be said about this Malaysian team as they have gone from strength to strength as they progressed further in this tournament. It seems as if each victory has injected a strong sense of self-belief into the players.
As a Singaporean watching, our closest rival made me realise how our own Lions lacked the mental strength which ultimately cost us a spot in the semi-finals of this year's AFF Suzuki Cup. Against the Philippines, Singapore ended up conceding a sloppy goal at the back while against Thailand we allowed the nerves to get to us which ended our run in the competition. Fandi Ahmad hit the nail on the head when he said that Singapore's current batch of players lacked the mental strength to overcome obstacles.
Football and in particular Malaysia have shown that one does not always need the most talented of football players to be successful. All it takes is having a bunch of players who have the right qualities and are determined to succeed. As Singapore undergoes a revolution in its footballing landscape, it will be hoped that whoever takes over the Lions can inculcate the right qualities. If he ever needs an example, it wouldn't be a bad idea to look across the causeway.