A WORRYING Thai-phoon is blowing Malaysia’s way and it will make landfall at Bukit Jalil on Nov 14.
Braced for a stormy time are Harimau Malaya when they face Thailand in a World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium.
World No 119 Thailand look imposing indeed, coming off their shock 2-1 victory over Middle East giants the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a Group G World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
National coach Tan Cheng Hoe came away from a spying mission at the Thammasat Stadium, admitting that Thailand have a “new team”, one that is more dangerous.
The present Thai side are unlike the one that Malaysia beat on aggregate in the two-leg AFF Cup semi-finals 10 months ago. Malaysia drew 0-0 at home and 2-2 away.
Thailand have changed a lot since then. Under a new coach, Japanese Akira Nishino, the War Elephants have become better and stronger.
Nishino, who steered Japan to the World Cup last 16 in Russia last year, took over the Thai team in July.
On Tuesday, Nishino watched his team put the Middle East knights to the sword with goals from Teerasil Dangda (26th minute) and Ekanit Panya (51st minute) while UAE replied through Ali Makhbout.
The Thai-phoon are indeed blowing strong, as Thailand stormed their way to the top of Group G in overpowering World No 66 UAE.
World No 158 Malaysia are lying fourth in the group, above Indonesia but behind Thailand, Vietnam (2nd) and UAE (third).
Cheng Hoe said: “Thailand have a new coach with an entirely different approach to their play, and a new set of players.
“They really worked their hearts out. They play with more confidence and have attacking flair that is fast.
“Thailand managed to create plenty of chances against UAE and unlike what happened to us (Malaysia lost 2-1 to UAE in a recent World Cup qualifier), they made use of the opportunities to score and get the win.”
Cheng Hoe said despite Thailand’s rise, Malaysia must get a positive result against them at Bukit Jalil to get back into the pre-World Cup race.
“Thailand’s morale will be high but we have to make full use of the match being played in our own backyard.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on my players but we really need to step up our game if we want to get the result that we want.”