|Tigers: The Malaysian national squad under Dollah Salleh (fourth fromright). Malaysia will play Viet Nam today in Ha Noi. — Photo therakyatpost.com
HA NOI (VNS) — Malaysia's best players will face Viet Nam in a friendly match at the My Dinh Stadium in Ha Noi tomorrow.
This event will be the last important match for both sides ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) – Suzuki Cup next week. Viet Nam will host Group A, while Malaysia are in Group B to compete in Singapore.
Malaysia have been training for nearly two weeks, with the participation of a number of senior players who triumphed at the tournament in 2010.
Over the last several years, Malaysia have been the leading team in the region.
However, while they have competed strongly in the Southeast Asian Games, Malaysia showed poor performance at the biennial competition. They failed to defend their title in 2012, having been stopped at the semi-finals.
One of the reasons for their loss is the unsuitability of the head coach. After seeing defeat at last year's Asian Cup, coach Datuk Rajagobal's contract was not renewed by the Malaysian Football Federation. Instead, the federation later invited Kim Swee from their U23 squad to accept the position. Kim held the job for some months before former national striker Dollah Salleh was appointed manager in June.
Salleh has been tasked with earning a berth in the finals of the AFF Cup this year.
The 51-year-old coach selected all the best players from recent years, choosing both veterans and youths. Among them are Adan Mohammad Shukor, Rahim Safiq, Yahyah Mohd Amri, and Talaha Norshahrul Idlan, as well as Mohd Sali Mohd Safee and Mahayuddin Indra Putra, a "scoring machine". All of these players have been asked to play their best if they do not want to be replaced by younger players.
The "Malayan Tigers" arrived in Viet Nam yesterday.
On the host side, Viet Nam are still working on choosing their best first team, and the friendly match could be their last test before Japan's Toshiya Miura announces his final list.
Miura said he had 26 players who had all proven their ability, but he stopped short of identifying the important players in his strategy.
Local media have not gathered much information on the team, who are continuing to work hard each day, though a press conference is expected to be organised later today.
The match will air live on Channel VTV6, with ticket prices ranging from VND50,000-150,000 (US$2.5-7).
Fans' expect final birth at SEA tourney
"Faith revived, final spot expected," said one fan, speaking for many who were buying tickets yesterday.
Going by the fans' feelings, Viet Nam's prospects at the upcoming Southeast Asia Football Championships beginning next week are bright.
The Viet Nam-Malaysia friendly is the last warm-up match for both teams in their preparation for the region's biggest football event.
"The coach is a professional and I saw positive things and players seem to have grown in their professionalism," said Vu Van Tien who works for an event company.
Tien, an avid fan of the national team, spent $7 for a Stand A ticket.
"The team's chances to go beyond the group stage is very bright this year and a berth in the final is not plausible," Tien confirmed. — VNS