KUALA LUMPUR (5 Dec 2012) – Two years ago, Malaysia were the underdogs when they won the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time. And this time round as they head into the semi-finals of the biennial championship this week, the team is once again rated lower than three-time winners Thailand.
In 2010, the Malaysians had begun their campaign on the wrong foot when they were thrashed by Indonesia in their first game in the group. Never mind the fact that they were the reigning SEA Games champions, the formbook then and the talk was that they were unlikely to even make the semi-finals.
But their patience against highly-rated and confident Vietnam paid off handsomely and by the time, they played the final against Indonesia, they were already all-conquering heroes to the millions of the army in black and yellow.
How will the script pan out this time round for the two-time SEA Games champions? And can the defending AFF Suzuki Cup champions once again emerged triumphant against the odds?
“The underdogs tag is fine with me. In fact, it is better this way as we are left to concentrate on our own,” said striker Safee Sali. “We know that everyone is talking about Thailand but we will see what happens in the semi-finals.”
For the current edition, the Malaysians had once again started their campaign on the wrong note when they fell to a 3-0 loss to Singapore before bouncing back to beat Laos 4-1 and then Indonesia 2-0 to book their place as the runners-up team from Group B.
Malaysia will play Thailand in the first leg semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on 9 December 2012.
Pix by Stanley Chou (World Sport Group)