The Việt Nam national team seen in a training session to prepare for the match with Malaysia in the World Cup 2022’s second qualifying round today. Photo vff.org.vn
HÀ NỘI — Buoyed by the 4-0 victory over Indonesia on Monday night, Việt Nam go into their World Cup qualifier against Malaysia tonight full of confidence.
A victory will keep Park Hang-seo's boys firmly on top of Group G and put them within touching distance of making the third and final round of qualifying for the first time in history.
In contrast, Malaysia desperately need a win to stand any chance of advancing as they currently rank fourth with nine points after suffering a 4-0 loss to the UAE last week.
Despite that humbling defeat, the Malaysians look likely to pose a far sterner test than Indonesia did with a squad bolstered by recently naturalised players and players of mixed heritage.
That being said, defeating Việt Nam is considered a tall order for coach Tan Cheng Hoe and his players, so the pressure is very much on 'Harimau Malaya', as they are known at home.
Guilherme De Paula, a naturalised Brazilian striker recently brought into the Malaysian team, perhaps has the most pressure on his shoulders.
Hopes were high for the powerful forward but he struggled against the UAE and will be itching to put in a better showing against Việt Nam.
Ahead of the match, he said Malaysia know what they have to do and Việt Nam are a good team, but he feels confident he can breach the Vietnamese defence and bring confidence back to Malaysia.
Meanwhile, head coach Tan said he thought Malaysia had a slight advantage as Việt Nam will have to play without the suspended midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải.
Tan told a Malaysian TV channel that his team must take full advantage of the absence of Hải, as he is one of Việt Nam's most important players.
Việt Nam last lost to Malaysia in the semi-finals of the AFF Cup in 2014 but since then, Việt Nam have racked up four wins and one draw.
The Vietnamese Việt Nam side are also unbeaten in these 2022 World Cup qualifiers with four wins and two draws.
However, according to pundit Ngô Quang Tùng, Malaysia are on a par with Việt Nam, so coach Park's team can't overlook their opponents.
“I think we shouldn’t look at Malaysia's 4-0 loss to the UAE and look down on them. Maybe the organisation of this team is not at the highest level but they have tall, big, strong, European players. So Malaysia's ability to compete will be different from Indonesia's,” said Tùng.
“Malaysia still have their own goals. Competing against the defending Southeast Asian champions and often losing Việt Nam in the past will make their determination high in this match,” Tùng added.
Regarding Hải’s suspension on yellow cards, Tùng said Việt Nam have good options to replace him.
"Obviously, Hải has a large influence on the Vietnamese team's play. He can link play and transform situations. At this time, the quality of Vietnamese players is relatively even. Hải's gap with the rest of the players is not great. Each of them has their own characteristics to help the Vietnamese team. Therefore, Hải’s absence is a loss, but we still have other options to meet our needs,” said Tùng. — VNS