Malaysia and Vietnam will both be looking to win and book their spot in the semi-finals when they face each other in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Wednesday.
Malaysia, who have made the semi-finals in the last three editions of the tournament, opened up their account with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Cambodia.
Should they triumph over Vietnam, Malaysia, who triumphed in the competition in 2010, will also be favourites to finish atop the Group B standings, while the same prospect applies for Vietnam.
With so much at stake, Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee is glad to have his full squad available, but admitted that beating Vietnam, who were crowned champions in 2008, will be no easy feat.
“I believe this game against Vietnam will be as tough as our game against Cambodia,” Kim Swee said. “Fortunately most of our players are free to play, there are no injuries and I hope we have a good game against them.”
Kim Swee added that his side have to perform a lot better than they did against Cambodia in order to boost their chances of claiming another three points.
“Definitely we need a better performance compared to what we did against Cambodia,” he said. “Vietnam is a totally different team, they have improved and are preparing very well and they have a lot of balance in their team. On our part we will try to make it difficult for them and get a positive result.”
As for Vietnam, coach Nguyen Huu Thang conceded that the match could go either way, but added that he is hoping his side come out on top.
“The match tomorrow will be exciting because Malaysia has a variety of playing styles as well as good players and I think the chances of both sides winning is 50-50,” he said. “They showed good team spirit and good harmony with the combination in this group of players.
“That showed in their match against Cambodia when they overcame many difficulties and in our match tomorrow I think their team spirit will be even higher.”
Vietnam captain Le Cong Vinh, meanwhile, admitted that his side will have to be at their very best in order to give Malaysia a run for their money.
“It won’t be an easy game,” he said. “On our side, we will prepare the best we can and apply our game strategy to get the best result. No matter what the result we will leave the field with our pride.”