Suzuki Cup: Much at stake at Jalan Besar

Suzuki Cup: Much at stake at Jalan Besar
Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh (left) and Klairung Threeyajsang, assistant coach of Thailand.

He has been capped 97 times by his country and struck 48 international goals in that time.

Malaysia's Dollah Salleh was a striker of great skill, composure and supreme confidence during his playing days in the 1980s and 1990s.

One suspects his men will need all those attributes tonight when they take on tournament favourites Thailand in their AFF Suzuki Cup Group B clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference at the M Hotel yesterday, Malaysia coach Dollah said: "It's not easy to play against Thailand, who are one of the favourites, but Malaysia are ready and I believe that something is going to happen and we will give a good fight to the Thais.

"They have a young team, but they are getting better and better. I have been watching them since the Asian Games in South Korea where they did very well to reach the semi-finals.

"They are very fast and it is not easy to play against them, but we will do our very best to try to stop them."

There are huge incentives for either team to go for the jugular today.

SENT OFF

Victory for Thailand will ensure the War Elephants book their spot in the semi-finals, after their hard-fought 2-1 win over defending champions Singapore last Sunday.

Malaysia, ASEAN champions in 2010, will also be looking for a victory, after their draw with Myanmar last Sunday, when they played more than half of the game with 10 men after star midfielder Gary Steven Robbat was sent off in the 35th minute.

Three points tonight could also mean a draw with hosts Singapore on Saturday would be enough for Malaysia to book their spot in the last four.

Thailand coach Kiatisuk was once again unwell to attend and sent assistant coach Kairung Threejagsang to appear at the pre-match press conference, instead.

Kairung feels that Malaysia, with a sizeable number of players from their victorious 2010 campaign still in the team, holds an advantage over his young Thai team.

"Tomorrow's match will not be easy because Malaysia have a good team and they have more experienced players in their side than we do," he insisted.

"They also showed a lot of determination in their first game when they had only 10 players, but still managed a draw."

The Thai team are a young one, with most of the players hailing from this year's Asian Games team who finished fourth in the Under-23 competition in Incheon, South Korea.

But they hardly had it all their own way last Sunday, when the Lions went toe to toe with them.

Dollah would have taken note.

He became Malaysia coach in June and, in six matches with the team, he has tasted victory only once.

Malaysia are struggling to fire in goals, with star strikers Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Amri Yahyah short of confidence. Dollah, though, was unfazed and insisted that both forwards will come good.

"They will score tomorrow," he quipped.

"It's not easy when the strikers aren't firing on all cylinders, especially for Norshahrul, who hasn't played much to begin with. But I think it (the goals) will come anyway.

"The strikers are trying very hard, so I'm sure something special will come from them."

haiqals@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 26, 2014.
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