By Gabriel Tan in Bangkok
The War Elephants got their Suzuki Cup bid off to a perfect start on Saturday as they recorded an impressive 2-1 triumph over Philippines, where they arguably could have won by a bigger margin as they missed a host of good chances.
Next up for them is Park Sung-hwa's Myanmar side, who were expected to be the whipping boys of the group, but having seen them hold Vietnam to a 1-1 draw at the weekend, Schafer reveals he will be playing his strongest side in a bid to seal qualification with a game to spare.
"I'm taking this step by step," he told ESPNSTAR.com. "First, we have to win tomorrow [Tuesday].
"Myanmar are a very good team and there's no chance I'll be playing with my second team.
"It will not be easy for us tomorrow [Tuesday] and we have to play at the same level and power as we did against Philippines.
"Against Philippines was the first time those 11 players played together. We had no time to test them beforehand but it was very good."
The ex-Cameroon boss also stressed the gap between the traditional giants and the lesser nations in the region was starting to close, as highlighted by Sunday's Group B games - a 1-1 draw between Indonesia and Laos and a 3-0 win for Singapore over Malaysia.
"Football in Southeast Asia is not easy," Schafer added. "The level of national teams is now the same.
"Yesterday [Sunday], Malaysia lost to Singapore while Laos drew against Indonesia. This is something to be happy about.
"Now, it is up to us to aim to reach the levels of Korea Republic and Japan."
The German also conceded that as group hosts, there was bound to be pressure playing in front of their home fans, but praised the way his players have approached the tournament.
"Of course the home team has pressure," he said. "There is always pressure in Thailand but I want to make Thai football better.
"I have very professional staff and help from the [Thai Premier] League and the Football Association [of Thailand]. If these three can work together, we can make a very good team for the future of Thailand.
"Our team spirit is fantastic and we are ready for [Tuesday's] match."
Myanmar team manager Tin Myint Aung admitted his side will have it all to do against the Thais, but just like they did against Vietnam, is hopeful of causing another upset.
"Tomorrow [Tuesday] we have to play against Thailand, who are the best team and are stronger than our team," he said.
"But in football, you cannot make any assumptions and anything can happen. I appreciate Thailand but I also appreciate my players and our coach.
"We will try our best as anything can happen in football. I'm very surprised that Singapore beat Malaysia 3-0 in yesterday's [Sunday's] match.
"I think our players will give their best performance to their country."
Tin Myint Aung also revealed that Park had done his homework on the War Elephants and that Myanmar will have a plan to overcome them on Tuesday evening.
"We have seen the game between Philippines and Thailand," he added. "Our head coach [Park] has learnt their strengths and weaknesses and now we will prepare for the game.
"Now we know about their weaker points, we will try to exploit them. I believe in my players."
Thailand are on the hunt for a record fourth title but their first since 2002, while Myanmar's best-ever finish in the Suzuki Cup came in 2004 when they reached the semi-finals.
ESPN STAR Sports will broadcast all 18 matches with the most extensive online coverage on the AFF Suzuki Cup. Check espnstar.com (espnstar.my or espnstar.co.id) for local TV listing & breaking news. Follow us on Twitter @espn_star (or @espnstarmy, @espnstarid) for the latest updates from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.