NILAI: National striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha believes that while it will be tough, it’s not impossible for Harimau Malaya to take revenge on Vietnam when they meet in the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup final at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil, on Tuesday.
Describing the showdown against Vietnam as a dream come true after losing 2-0 to the Golden Dragons in the group stage in Hanoi, Norshahrul just can’t wait to avenge that loss and bring the Cup home for a second time since 2010.
To do that, he wants his teammates to remember the old adage “once bitten, twice shy”.
“There’s much we have learned from the loss in Hanoi on Nov 16 and we know that we need to buck up as this is the final.
“We can’t repeat the mistakes we made then,” said Mat Yo, as he’s fondly known, after a training session at the Universiti Sains Islam Malaysian field here today.
Norshahrul, who has scored five goals in the tournament, also urged his teammates to raise their game so that they can take a comfortable lead to Hanoi for the return leg on Dec 15.
“Of course, it’s crucial that we get a couple of goals under our belt in the first leg on home ground so that we will have a comfortable cushion in Hanoi,” he said, urging his teammates not to end up doing things the hard way.
The 32-year-old, who was toothless in the attack against Vietnam in the group match, said he had also learned his lesson and would work extra hard to find the back of the net on Tuesday.
“I studied our game against them (Vietnam) and I found that I was guilty of several mistakes too.
“After analysing the game, I now have some input on how to breach the Vietnam backline. I just hope that everything goes right for me in the final,” he said.
Meanwhile, some 300 supporters came to watch the Harimau Malaya team train at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim) this evening ahead of the finals against Vietnam.
USIM student Muhammad Usaid Mohd Khadir, 24, said although Malaysia had lost to Vietnam in the group stages, the Harimau Malaya were still serious contenders for the title.
“I hope Coach Tan Cheng Hoe can improve on the technical proficiency and weaknesses, and I believe Malaysia can win 2-0 if we play all-out.
“Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has told the squad not to let him down. The same goes for all Malaysians rooting for the team. I am confident that we can win,” he said.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Hamidin Mohd Amin told the squad not to spend too much time on social media and instead give more focus on the final two matches.
“It’s not the time yet to celebrate….there’s still work to be done.
“I also don’t want the players to spend too much time on social media as receiving excessive praise and criticism can cause problems to them.”