Don’t lean on past records, Safawi

KUALA LUMPUR – Harimau Malaya skipper Muhammad Safawi Rasid (picture) is aware that past records will mean nothing when they take on Thailand in the semi-finals of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup 2022 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday (Jan 7).

However, having said that, he also believes that their success in eliminating Thailand at the same stage in the 2018 edition could tilt this weekend’s first-leg tie in Harimau Malaya’s favour.

To achieve that, the 25-year-old winger knows that everyone in the national team will have to play their roles to perfection.

“In 2018, we only won because they (Thailand) missed a penalty, so my teammates and I will go in strong right from the word go in the semi-finals this time.

“I have faith in my teammates and the coach has worked out the tactics, so we will go with his game plan and give it everything that we have to ensure we make the final,” he said when met recently.

For the record, Malaysia edged Thailand on away goals after drawing 0-0 in Bukit Jalil and 2-2 in Bangkok in the semi-finals of the 2018 edition before going on to lose 3-2 on aggregate to Vietnam in the final.

Malaysia then notched two more wins over Thailand – 2-1 and 1-0 – in the second round group stage of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.

The two teams crossed swords again last September in the semi-finals of the Thai King’s Cup. Both teams were tied 1-1 in regulation time and Malaysia won the penalty shootout 5-3.

Malaysia will head into this weekend’s clash on a high after their tremendous 4-1 Causeway Derby thumping of Singapore on Tuesday (Jan 3), which paved the way for the Harimau Malaya to advance to the semi-finals as runners-up of Group B behind Vietnam, who will take on Indonesia in the other semi-final. 

After the first leg of the semi-final at Bukit Jalil, the Harimau Malaya, under the guidance of head coach Kim Pan Gon, will leave for Bangkok for the return leg clash at the Thammasat Stadium on Tuesday (Jan 10). – Bernama