Mitsubishi Electric Cup

PREVIEW: Malaysia vs Thailand (Semi-final, 1st leg)

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06 Jan 2023

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Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia can count on a raucous home support as they host Thailand in the first leg of the semi-finals of the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 with the Bukit Jalil National Stadium tadium sold out in less than 24 hours.

All 59,000 tickets were snapped up in less than a day and coach Kim Pan-gon knows just how important that atmosphere will be in helping to push the Harimau Malaya past the defending champions. 

"We want to play well again in front of our home fans, every player is excited to be here and we want to take full use of our home advantage."

The Korean mentor also stressed that although the hosts have the upmost respect for Thailand that doesn't mean they'll let them dictate proceedings on Saturday.

"We must fully respect what they've done these last few years and especially as the defending champions, but we will play with full power, show our Malaysian DNA, and take full advantage of our characteristics.

"The analysis on Thailand is already done and the players in Malaysia are so smart and adaptable that when we explain something they quickly grasp it, so everything is prepared and now we just need to perform."

Thailand too have vowed not to take a back foot, even on the road, as they aim to set up a lead that they can then finish at home next week, according to coach Mano Polking.

"I want to make it clear that we are not coming to defend or move away from the way that we've played but rather we will play to our strengths, try to have the ball and control the game."

The only non-Korean coach amongst the four semi-finalists, the Brazil-German boss also stressed that, with the limited time between matches, mental strength is a key element at the pointy end of the tournament.

"We need to try and take the crowd out of the game and be strong mentally because that is often what decides semi-finals and finals.

"These kind of games are decided on details and controlling the crowd is an important part of that because if we make an early mistake then that can help the crowd to damage us and then things can get out of control so we have a clear plan how to stop that and also show our strengths to get a result where we can then decide things at home."