| KUALA LUMPUR (14 Dec 2010) – Malaysia are not about to throw caution to the wind even though the Vietnam national team are here for the first leg semi-final match of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 with several players on the crock list.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium this afternoon, Malaysia chief coach K. Rajagobal said that as much as Vietnam are going through some difficult time at the moment, the Malaysians also went through the same thing at the start of Group A in Jakarta earlier this month.
“We went through some tough times too where at the start of this tournament (in Jakarta), we had around ten players injured but we still made the semi-finals which speak volume of the players coming in,” said Rajagobal.
“Vietnam are still a strong side as they are the defending champions and they have a lot of experience. It will not be easy for our young defence to play at this level but they should be given credit for reaching this far.
“We should not fear anyone as afterall we are playing at home. We should give our best and play at a level we know we are capable of.”
Vietnam chief coach Henrique Calisto said that the question mark on midfielder Pham Van Tai Em has confounded further the situation with the team’s starting eleven.
Right-back Quang Thanh badly injured his left shin in the team’s final Group B match against Singapore in Hanoi while left-back Viet Cuong is in even worse condition after tearing a back ligament.
Both players are unlikely to make the game.
Vietnam also have wily midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang suspended for the two yellow card offense in the last match against Singapore.
“We have been here since Saturday as we are trying to get acclimatized to the sunny conditions here in Kuala Lumpur when compared to Hanoi which is really cold at the moment,” added Calisto.
“We have four players out playing against a home side supported by 80,000 fans and where they have not made the final for the last 14 years, so it will be quite tough tomorrow.
“But in spite of having several players not available, we will not be defensive as that is not the right way to play. We will not change our gameplan and we will fight for every ball.
“It is a different situation when compared to two years ago (when we won the championship) – different game, different situation, different coach and different team. Malaysia are different this time as they are well organized and they go into the attack in a very clever way, so we will see what happens after 90 minutes.”
AFF SUZUKI CUP 2010, SEMI-FINALS FIXTURES
First-leg – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (BUKIT JALIL NATIONAL STADIUM, KUALA LUMPUR)
15 Dec Malaysia vs Vietnam (2000hrs)
First-leg – Jakarta, Indonesia (GELORA BUNG KARNO STADIUM, JAKARTA)
16 Dec Philippines vs Indonesia
Second-leg – Hanoi, Vietnam (MY DINH NATIONAL STADIUM, HANOI)
18 Dec Vietnam vs Malaysia (2000hrs)
Second-leg – Jakarta, Indonesia (GELORA BUNG KARNO STADIUM, JAKARTA)
16 Dec Indonesia vs Philippines