PETALING JAYA, Sept 21 – National football coach Tan Cheng Hoe has no complaints after the Harimau Malaya were drawn in Group B with defending champions Vietnam in the AFF Suzuki Cup championships to be held later this year.
Others in the group are Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos. Group A is made up of Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and the winners of the Qualifying Round match between Brunei and Timor Leste.
Brunei, coached by former national football coach Datuk K. Rajagobal will host the qualifier.
Vietnam defeated Malaysia 3-2 on aggregate in the 2018 final. The first-leg in Kuala Lumpur ended in a 2-2 stalemate and Vietnam sealed the title with a 1-0 in the return-leg in Hanoi.
Malaysia has featured in four finals in the Asean meet and won the silverware in 2010 – a year after winning the SEA Games gold medal in Vientiane, Laos.
Commenting on the draw, Cheng Hoe described it as “fair draw” that gives Malaysia a fair chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. Apart from Vietnam, Malaysia will have to take note of Indonesia after the Indonesian FA made a major revamp to check the slide.
”It is better to play Vietnam in the group stage…that’s how I look. This does not mean Vietnam is the only rival we have to be worried about. Indonesian football has undergone a big overhaul after the World Cup/Asia Cup qualifiers and we are likely to continue our rivalry again,” said Cheng Hoe from Kuala Lumpur.
“In short we cannot underrate any team in group. Talking about Group A, it is tough group and have to take note of our rivals…Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore are all capable of clinching a top two place to advance to the semis.”
Five-time champions Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore are expected to battle for the top spots in Group A.
The Philippines has also brought in several naturalised players from Europe and Brazil and could be the dark horses in the tournament that was postponed from last year due to the Covid-9 pandemic.
Thailand have won the Asean title five times – 1996, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016 while Singapore won it four times (1998, 2004, 2007, 20012). Vietnam was champion in 2008 and 2018.
This year’s AFF Cup will run from Dec 5 with the final scheduled for Jan 1 2022.

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