BANGKOK – National coach Dollah Salleh promised Malaysia will give a better show against Thailand in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup football final at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday.
The Harimau Malaya face an uphill battle after losing 2-0 in the first leg of the final at the Rajamangala Stadium on Wednesday.
Midfielder Charyl Chappuisâ€™ penalty in the 71st minute and a strike by left winger Kroekrit Thawikan goal in the 85th handed the War Elephants a big advantage for the return leg.
Dollah was in defiant mood at the post-match press conference.
â€œWe played well in the first half, but our defence collapsed after 70 minutes. The penalty spoiled our rhythm,â€ said the former international striker.
â€œWe will be a different side in the second leg … we have nothing to lose now. It will be hard to overturn a 2-0 deficit but anything is possible in football and we still have 90 minutes to play.
â€œThailand played well today (Wednesday) for the win, but we also got off to a good start. I donâ€™t know what happened as the players stopped creating chances as the match progressed.â€
Dollah opted to keep his winning combination last night, fielded the same starting XI who beat Vietnam 4-2 in the semi-final second leg in Hanoi last Thursday.
Malaysiaâ€™s best chance came in the third minute, but winger Mohd Amri Yahyah headed straight to Thailand goalkeeper Kawin Thamshatchanan. Three minutes later, Norshahrul Idlan Tahala latched on to Indra Putra Mahayuddinâ€™s defence-splitting lob but he failed to beat Kawin.
The Thais then took charge with their crisp passing game, but the Malaysians stood firm with skipper Mohd Shukor Adan doing a good job in defence.
Roared on by their fans, the Thais upped the ante in the second half with Charyl doing a good job in midfield.
The Malaysian defence finally cracked under the constant Thai pressure and it resulted in centreback Fadhli Shas bringing down Adison Promprak. Referee Kovalenko Valentin of Uzbekistan awarded a penalty and Charyl made no mistake from the spot.
Dollah quickly replaced the ineffective Amri and midfielder Mohd Badhri Radzi with Badrol Bakthiar and striker Mohd Safee Sali to get Malaysia back into the game. But the plan failed miserably.
The Thais delivered the knockout punch five minute before full-time with left winger Kroekrit Thawikan slotting home after a fast counter attack.
Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang was pleased to secure a comfortable lead.
â€œMalaysia played offensively in the first half, but we did well to soak up the pressure. It was our plan to launch fast counter attacks. It was a fair game for both team but we did well for the win,â€ said Kaitisuk.
“Malaysia played under pressure here in Bangkok and it would be the same for them in Kuala Lumpur. We want to be champions, so we have to win in Bukit Jalil,” he added.