Vietnam Time

12/11/2018 9:25:55 AM

Vietnam can handle Malaysia in AFF Cup final: Head coach Park

Malaysia are hoping home advantage will pay off as they will take on Vietnam in the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 final on December 11 evening. But coach Park Hang-seo insists his team will not be intimidated by the 80,000 strong crowd at the Bukit Jalil stadium.

Vietnamese players train ahead of the AFF Cup final. (Photo: VNA)

DETERMINED TO WIN

The Korean coach said he has a plan in place to beat the home crowd in the first leg while relaying on the strength of character of the young players in the team.

Speaking to reporters at the pre-match conference in Kuala Lumpur on December 10, Park pointed out it has been 10 years since the team has played in a major final.

He also said since then, the two sides have met 10 times, with Vietnam coming out on top in five of those matches.

He said: "Playing in front of 80,000 local fans will be very difficult, it is huge crowd, but during training, I and my assistants reminded players of this issue. We tell them how to keep calm in that situation. Communication will be tricky because the stadium will be loud. But we will use memos and other means to pass on messages. Bukit Jalil will not be a problem," he said.

"Our biggest strength in the tournament is that we have a lot of young players which means they are highly energetic. They may lack in experience, but we have talked a lot about this in team meeting. And we will try to find a way to strengthen our side even more,” said Park.

Speaking about Malaysia, Park said the win against them in the group stage counts for nothing, as the final will be a whole different ball game.

Midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang said while he respects Malaysia as a team who are improving, the Vietnamese team were ready to beat them again.

Hoang is the most experienced player of the team. He played at the SEA Games in 2009 when Vietnam lost 0-1 to Malaysia in the final.

"It is a sad memory but I can learn from it for the later games in my career. We meet Malaysia again and we see they are getting better and better. Here in Bukit Jalil excessive supporters are also be an obstacle. But we watch their videos and prepare well for the match," said the midfielder.

The team were given a boost after receiving a letter from Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc saying he hoped they did their best and the nation was hoping for a victory.

Malaysian Tan Cheng Hoe promised a ‘surprise’ for Vietnam.

"We played well in Thailand and if we play with the same momentum and spirit then I’m sure we’ll be fine,” Tan was quoted as saying on affsuzuki.com.

“Of course playing at home is a big advantage for us and something we have to use to our benefit but if we keep our style of playing and play with the same belief then we can get a good result and give Vietnam a surprise.

“We have been preparing well, training well and we are ready for the game. A couple of players are not fully fit but we are ready."

He added: “The players are always motivated to play in Bukit Jalil. The atmosphere in this stadium is always special and always pushes us to play well. That is why we need to take advantage of it and play well tomorrow.”

Fans from Vietnam and Malaysia cheer on their teams during the Suzuki Cup tournament. (Photos: AFP)

WRITE HISTORY TOGETHER

Vietnamese players have long had plenty of technique and ability but under Park the team has become harder to beat and more pragmatic.

Injecting a winning mentality does have side-effects and as Park has said on more than one occasion: "My philosophy in football is to win."

Malaysia coach Tan Cheng Hoe, assistant when Malaysia won in 2010, has the same philosophy and he has injected new life into the Malaysian team.

When he took over last year, the Harimau Malaya were low on confidence, energy and popularity and even from that group loss to Vietnam, the team have improved.

Now he is 180 minutes away from producing what would be the best result in the modern history of Malaysian football.

The boss has a young team playing with aggression and ambitions and it has been a welcome sight. There is Syahmi Safari, just 20, marauding forward a to send long-range rockets into top corners, there is Safawi Rasid twisting down the wings and the relatively ancient Norshahrul Idlan in attack.

The semifinal triumph over Thailand was as encouraging as it was tight. The Thais were going for a third successive title and a sixth overall.

Few expected the War Elephants' path to the final to be stopped by the Tigers. It almost didn't happen of course. The line between a final and a semifinal exit is a fine one - or in the case of - not that fine.

The final will start at 7.45pm (Hanoi time) and will be live on VTV6 channel and SBS of the Republic of Korea. Log on to the Vietnam News Facebook page for regular live updates during the match.

About 40,000 tickets were snapped up online within minutes of being available, then tens of thousands camped out all night outside the Bukit Jalil Stadium to buy more.

That massive arena had over 80,000 fans for a group game with Myanmar. There were almost 90,000 for the semifinal with Thailand.

What will happen when the two teams meet is anyone's guess, but both Malaysia and Vietnam are ready to explode with joy, pride and excitement./.

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