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Tan calls on Malaysia to focus ahead of Indonesia tie

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe wants his players to keep their emotions in check when they begin their FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers Round 2 campaign against Indonesia next week. 

Malaysia will play their Group G opening tie against Indonesia on September 5 in Jakarta in what is standout match on Matchday one of the Asian Qualifiers.

Indonesia hold a slight advantage in terms of the recent head-to-head, having won three of their last five matches and Tan has called for calm ahead of their visit to the Bung Karno Stadium.

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“In any competition, the first game is always very important because it helps to motivate the team and increase their confidence level,” said Tan to local media.

“And this first game has an added importance. We will be going to Indonesia and playing at Bung Karno Stadium. That’s not going to be easy.

“So, it is vital for the players to absorb the pressure at the stadium and keep focused on the match. They cannot be emotional when playing against Indonesia.”

Malaysia have not beaten their Southeast Asian rivals in their last two encounters with Indonesia winning their friendlies in 2016 and 2014.

It has been seven years since Malaysia defeated Indonesia in the 2012 AFF Championship following a 2-0 win in Kuala Lumpur and 2004 was the last time the Malayan Tigers tasted victory at Bung Karno Stadium at the AFF Cup.

“If we look at the history of the matches between Indonesia and Malaysia, I think the results are quite balanced. There’s no advantage to either team.

“We can see now Indonesia are more serious with their preparations, especially given that they have added five to six naturalised players.

“So if we are to judge, Indonesia are definitely in a better shape and quality than what we have seen previously."

Malaysia, ranked 159th in the world, also have Thailand, Vietnam and United Arab Emirates for company in Group G.

A win against Indonesia on September 5 will put them in a good position when they face UAE five days later before taking on Vietnam on October 10.

“Thailand have always been a very good team while lately we can see that Vietnam are doing very well. All the teams have undoubtedly improved and they will give us tough challenges.”

Malaysia play Jordan in a friendly at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

Photos: AFC, Football Association of Malaysia

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