YANGON — Baddrol Bakhtiar believes Malaysia produce their best performances under pressure as they focus on the must-win AFF Suzuki Cup Group B game against Myanmar on Saturday.
Only three points will do for the visitors against the co-hosts at Thuwunna Stadium, following their 1-0 loss to Vietnam on Wednesday.
Kedah’s Baddrol was a member of the 2012 and 2014 squads, who went into their final group matches needing victory to qualify for the semifinals.
Both times, Malaysia came out on top, beating Indonesia and Singapore respectively, to make the last four.
A similar storyline transpired in 2010. Remarkably, Malaysia headed into the final group game with only a point, but beat Laos, and would go on to clinch their maiden title.
“We have been put in similar situations before, with our backs against the wall. But we succeeded, and we hope to do the same again,” said Baddrol.
“We will take lessons from the last game, and improve on them. It will be a challenge to beat Myanmar in front of a capacity crowd, but we are going to give it everything we have.”
National coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee, meanwhile, issued a rallying cry to his players for one final Herculean effort in Yangon after two energy-sapping matches under sweltering conditions this week.
“Playing two games in midday demanded a lot. We have done the necessary recovery process, and I hope all the boys will be ready for this game,” Ong said.
Malaysia will take on Myanmar under much cooler conditions at 6 p.m., which is when nightfall kicks in at Yangon, with a nice breeze cooling things down.
But they face a home side fired up after a morale-boosting 3-1 victory over Cambodia on Wednesday. They are eager to clinch their first semifinal berth in 12-years.
“Malaysia are a different side from the team we drew 0-0 back in May. But my players are inspired, and with the home fans on our side, we will take the game to them,” said Myanmar coach Gerd Zeise.
Ronny Harun and Syazwan Zainon are Malaysia’s only injury concerns ahead of the match, but both players should recover in time.
Group leaders Vietnam face the already-eliminated Cambodia in the other game, played at the same time, at Wunna Theikdi Stadium in Naypyidaw.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil