BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Ahead of their Group G World Cup Asian qualification encounter on Thursday, Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe has reminded everyone that the Thailand team they will be facing is not the same side they surprised in their most recent clash.
The two sides last met in the 2018 AFF Championship semi-finals, where the Harimau Malaya won on the away-goal rule, after the two legged tie ended tied 2-2 on aggregate.
But the War Elephants at the time did not field a number of their stars who were playing club football in Japan, and were at the time led by head coach Milovan Rajevac.
They have since parted ways with the Serbian, and are currently led by Japanese trainer Akira Nishino. They are surprisingly leading Group G at the moment with seven points, following a string of good performances, including a 2-1 win at home against Asian favourites UAE last month.
Speaking in the pre-match press conference, Cheng Hoe wants his charges to be aware of the improvements made by their opponents, ahead of the match that will be played at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium, Kuala Lumpur.
"Tomorrow's match is an important one, against Thailand who have called-up their best players this time around. As the coach I have to prepare extra diligently because this is not the same Thailand that we faced off against last year.
"It has been [almost] one year since; Thailand have appointed a new and well-known head coach. This has further motivated their players.
"We need a better and positive approach to take on a team that is led by a former World Cup coach. Their attacking is really good, especially with the inclusion of several upcoming young players. It's important for my players to head into tomorrow's match with the right attitude and right tactical discipline," said the 51-year old trainer.
While Thailand are sitting pretty atop the group standings, Malaysia are now in fourth place in the five-team group, with one wins and two defeats.
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