Home Local Roaring Tigers can’t wait for return leg against War Elephants

Roaring Tigers can’t wait for return leg against War Elephants

PETALING JAYA: It will be a monumental task but Harimau Malaya are ready to crush the War Elephants in Pathum Thani today.

National coach Kim Pan-gon believes his boys are up for the job against Thailand in the semi-final second-leg at the Thammasat Stadium.

“We have a good advantage with the 1-0 scoreline, but this is an away game. We know it will be tough. Mentally and physically, we have recovered. We are ready and fully confident to play Thailand tomorrow (today). We want to bring a good result to Malaysia.”

However, Pan-gon admitted that they have a lot of respect for the Thais.

“We cannot say we have a better team.

“Defending champions Thailand are the strongest team in the region. We respect them. But we will give a strong fight. We will try our best.

“Personally, AFF is an exciting tournament. When I was in Hong Kong and South Korea, it was nice to watch this tournament. When I became coach (for Malaysia), this tournament was one of my targets. Going to the final would be a great honour. It’s my way of repaying the faith shown by the Malaysian public.”

Midfielder Stuart Wilkin, who has so far scored three goals in the competition, has urged his teammates to continue their courageous display.

The 24-year-old Sabah midfielder knows it won’t be easy especially after Thailand’s dominant performance at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday.

“It will be tough, but I believe our team spirit will carry us through.”

Stuart expects the War Elephants to again dominate possession but believes Malaysia have what it takes to nullify them.

“Thailand are technically good. We need to be compact and defend the box well. For the second-leg, I expect something similar to the first-leg.

“They will have a lot of the ball, we will defend well and take the chances we get.”

Thailand, led by the inspirational Theerathon Bunmathan, have the highest number of goals so far in the tournament, with 13.

At the forefront of it is veteran striker Teerasil Dangda, who has five goals to his name.

Theerathon has been the key man as he not only plays as a wingback but, at times, works as a midfielder – dictating the tempo and orchestrating the attacks from the middle of the park.

Their pacy wingers – Ekanit Panya and Bordin Phala – can also be a handful with their dribbling and swiftness.

The victory in Bukit Jalil on Saturday saw Malaysia extend their unbeaten record against Thailand to six matches after winning two and drawing three in their previous meetings since 2018.

However, Thailand are the most successful team in the AFF Cup since the inaugural event in 1996, having emerged champions six times in nine finals.

The Thais also have a slight advantage against Malaysia in the semi-final stage, having won two of three encounters, in the 2000 (2-0) and 2012 (3-1) editions while losing on away goals in the 2018 edition.

Source: The Star


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