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KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 -- The national squad players cannot allow themselves to be intimidated by Vietnam's 4-0 win over Indonesia, in Group G of the second round of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), early this morning.
National football legend Khalid Ali, when contacted by Bernama, said that the Harimau Malaya squad, under coach Tan Cheng Hoe, should never lose confidence in their ability to surprise Vietnam, despite the current statistics being more in favour of the opposing team.
He said that Malaysia must win the remaining two matches, against Vietnam at midnight this Friday and Thailand on June 15, if they do not want their dream of qualifying for the finals of the 2023 Asian Cup to be completely shattered.
“Our players must believe that they are better than the Vietnam players. They (players) need to bounce back with much better performance than in previous matches, and play as a team. Players need to work together; only then can they overcome Vietnam,” he said.
The 4-0 win over Indonesia at the Al Maktoum Stadium was an indicator of some sort that Vietnam has given an early warning, ahead of the clash at the same venue against the national squad.
The four Vietnam goals were scored by Nguyen Tien Linh in the 51st minute, Nguyen Quang Hai (62nd minute), Nguyen Cong Phuong (67th minute) and Vu Van Thanh in the 74th minute.
At the same time, the victory also put Park Hang-seo's squad in a comfortable place in Group G, by collecting 14 points after six matches.
Malaysia is currently in fourth place, sharing nine points with third-placed team Thailand, who lost 1-3 to the UAE in another group match at the Zabeel Stadium, Dubai, early this morning.
Meanwhile, the current positions in the group saw the competition for the top two places for automatic slots to the finals of the 2023 Asian Cup intensified, with Malaysia now facing pressure in the tough mission to win against Vietnam.
Thus far, the national squad, under the guidance of Cheng Hoe, has only managed to record one draw in the last four matches.
“We can't go down against Vietnam with a similar style of playing that we did against the UAE. We have to attack more than defend; it will give the attacking machinery more opportunities to work and try to make an impact in the game," said Khalid.
Malaysia resumed the qualifying campaign, which was delayed for more than a year following the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 0-4 defeat to the UAE at the Zabeel Stadium, on Saturday.
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