Harimau Malaya need to end jinx against Vietnam

KUALA LUMPUR: Can Harimau Malaya end their hoodoo against Vietnam in the AFF Cup?

Malaysia are in Group B with the Golden Dragons, Singapore, Myanmar and Laos in the tournament, which starts in December.

Kim Pan Gon's side will start their campaign away against Myanmar on Dec 21, followed by Laos (home, Dec 24), Vietnam (away, Dec 27) and Singapore (home, Jan 3, 2023).

Vietnam are the highest ranked Southeast Asian team at world No 97, 51 spots above Malaysia (world No 148).

Malaysia do not have a good record against Vietnam, with one win and one draw to show from the last 12 encounters.

Harimau Malaya last defeated Vietnam in the 2014 AFF Cup semi-finals. The team defeated Vietnam 4-2 in Hanoi in the return leg after losing 2-1 in the first game in Shah Alam.

Former national coach Dollah Salleh guided Harimau Malaya to that famous win eight years ago.

Dollah, however, believes Malaysia can beat Vietnam in the AFF Cup.

"In 2014, the gap between both nations was small. However, Vietnam are stronger based on their Fifa ranking," said Dollah.

"But Harimau Malaya have progressed too. They showed their pedigree by qualifying for the Asian Cup. I think Pan Gon's side can give Vietnam a tough fight. The ball is round, and Malaysia have every chance to win.

"In 2014, we beat Vietnam in front of a sellout crowd in Hanoi. It was a cold night, but we achieved it.

"I was still confident that my team would beat Vietnam after losing the first game. My players raised their game, and we won the tie."

Malaysia won the AFF Cup in 2010 and finished runners-up in 1996, 2014 and 2018.

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