by Aysha Ridzuan in Kuala Lumpur
Harimau Malaya head into the competition as defending champions after their impressive triumph in 2010, and open against arch-rivals Singapore at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
However, their preparations have been far from ideal having failed to win their last four warm-up friendlies, falling to defeats against Vietnam and Thailand and being held to a 1-1 draw against both Hong Kong and Bangladesh.
Nevertheless, the 25-year-old insists his troops cannot afford to be affected by their less-than-satisfactory displays ahead of a crucial encounter against the Lions.
"I hope we put aside all the negatives before the game," he said. "It is very important that we think positive.
"I am hopeful my team-mates and I will deliver a good performance in order to get a good result."
The ex-Selangor skipper, who is set to play for ambitious Malaysia Super League outfit Johor next season, is almost certain to start for Harimau Malaya, but it remains to be seen who will partner him in the engine room, with Amar Rohidan and Gary Robbat both vying for the spot.
Safiq hinted that he preferred playing alongside the former because of his experience and the duo's familiarity with one another, but insists his style of play will not have to change depending on who he plays alongside.
"I am used to playing with Amar," he added. "I have played with him since the youth team.
"But that's not to say that Gary is not okay. For me, both of them are good, only that Gary is still new. But we will see what the coach decides.
"Even though sometimes I have to play with Amar or Gary, I don't change my game because their roles on the pitch are the same."
Like Safiq, Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal was aware of the importance Sunday's game has, and believes his charges are ready for the Lions.
"I don't think there will be a lot of surprises from the Singapore team," he said. "We've played them many times and we know the players.
"It's more important that I focus on my team and the preparations for Sunday's match. We must play with confidence.
"As far as I'm concerned, the players are focused. I watch them during training and I know them - maybe their performance will speak for itself whether they are distracted or not.
"We want to have a very good game against Singapore."
In Group B's other encounter on Saturday, four-time runners-up Indonesia take on Laos.
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