With three matches down and one to go within the group stage of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, Malaysia are the place they anticipated to be in Group A. They collected six factors from the opening two wins over Cambodia and Laos after which misplaced in Vietnam, the strongest staff of their half of the 10-team match.
So all of it comes down to the ultimate game with Myanmar in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, as many thought it could. Sadly, a draw won’t be sufficient (besides within the most unlikely occasion that group leaders Vietnam lose closely to Cambodia) — solely a win is bound to take the Harimau Malaya leaping into the final 4.
Whereas a ultimate place is the official goal, a spot within the semifinals will probably be seen as acceptable. That’s as a result of this Malaysia staff, nonetheless a work in progress after some unstable years, is sweet sufficient to beat the weaker elements of Southeast Asia however have a way to go to constantly problem the highest groups within the area equivalent to Thailand and Vietnam.
Within the opening two video games, Malaysia had probabilities and will have scored greater than they managed. The staff’s lack of a playmaker was not a large situation — alternatives had been created, they simply weren’t taken. But against a well-organised and bodily Vietnam staff, Malaysia simply didn’t have that No. 10 to make one thing occur. With not a lot to work with within the center, Malaysia had been left to rely on the extensive gamers, however that they had little pleasure against the Golden Stars.
The query now could be a easy one: Can Malaysia defeat Myanmar? By way of conventional stature within the area, the Tigers could be anticipated to deliver down the White Angels however issues have modified. Myanmar defeated Malaysia within the 2016 version of the AFF Cup, thanks to a late purpose from David Htan, although that was on residence soil.
Two years on and Myanmar have proven already that they’re no pushovers, profitable Four-1 at residence to Cambodia and Three-1 in Laos, although they fell behind comparatively early in each video games earlier than discovering the targets they wanted. Against Vietnam, coach Antoine Hey took a danger in making 5 modifications — just one compelled — for the game against the very best staff within the group. At occasions they rode their luck and had their goalkeeper to thank however got here away with a Zero-Zero draw and the identical this weekend with see them via.
But which will current a drawback for what continues to be a pretty younger staff. Do Myanmar play for a level or go for the win? The hazard for Malaysia is that the guests will sit again and permit the hosts to come ahead for the win they want after which discover pleasure on the counter-attack.
Star ahead Aung Thu was rested early within the match however is beginning to present the abilities that make him among the finest forwards in Southeast Asia. Midfielder Htan has impressed to date and was rested in Yangon in midweek. These three are able to inflicting issues for the Malaysian defence.
Even with that in thoughts, followers anticipate a Malaysia win. After three video games, the staff must be prepared and after a week off, they need to be effectively rested.
“We broke camp after arriving in Malaysia on Saturday and I felt the break was good for the gamers,” Malaysia coach Tan Cheng Hoe stated.
“They frolicked with their households after being away for practically a month.
“They’re re-energised and are extra motivated after spending time with their family members.”
Other than the harm problems with attacker Mohamadou Sumareh, the Harimau Malaya squad is absolutely match. The African-born star would, if injury-free and in kind, be the very best Malaysian guess to get behind Myanmar and create alternatives.
Even when Sumareh just isn’t prepared, coach Cheng Hoe has had loads of time and alternative to work with the staff and know his greatest beginning XI. There might not be sufficient expertise there to win in Hanoi however Myanmar at residence must be a completely different matter.
If followers in Kuala Lumpur can replicate the environment that was created by over 30,000 followers in Yangon two years in the past, that may be a begin. With 80,000 anticipated at Bukit Jalil, that shouldn’t be a drawback. Actually, it’s extra doubtless that there would be the reverse and place a weighty burden on Malaysian shoulders.
The coach doesn’t assume so.
“Many of the gamers have the of expertise enjoying in entrance of a huge crowd, so I do not assume they’re going to be overawed,” he stated.
“Actually, I feel they may thrive underneath the strain.”
It’s Malaysia’s greatest game for a while and it might not be for the faint-hearted. At the very least the equation is easy. Win and there may be a high-profile semifinal against Thailand that will probably be pretty pressure-free provided that the Thais are match favourites.
Fail and the inquests will begin once more.