Dollah relishing in big crowd for S'pore showdown
Before the start of the AFF Suzuki Cup, Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh insisted that the prospect of playing in front of a full house at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium when the Tigers faced arch-rivals Singapore did not worry him.
Tomorrow, Malaysia will play in the stadium for the first time, and will walk out into a hothouse atmosphere with possibly more than 40,000 fans roaring on their opponents in their final Group B clash, but Dollah continued his theme yesterday when he told The New Paper it will hardly be a problem for his men.
After a training session at the Bishan Stadium yesterday, Dollah (above) threw down the gauntlet.
Said the 51-year-old: "It's a must-win match for us. With Thailand already through, a draw will do us no good. We need to go all out.
"I'm not afraid at all. Big crowds don't bother me. My players are used to big crowds in the Malaysian Super League, and in fact, I enjoy playing in front of a full stadium.
"You look up at the stands, and you see fans all around the stadium, and it makes you feel good. I know that my players can match the levels of enthusiasm showed by the fans."
Despite his side sitting second from bottom in Group B, and key midfielder S Kunanlan nursing a knock sustained during the Tigers' 3-2 loss to Thailand on Wednesday, Dollah has no plans to divert from his usual game plan - attack.
"Our plan is simple - attack and win. I said before the Thailand game that our strikers would come good, and then Amri Yahyah scored, so we need to keep attacking," he said.
"So that's what we need to do, to get goals. Some, like Kunanlan, are not fully fit, but whatever line-up we field, we'll be going for the win from the start."
Dollah did hint, though, that his men would keep a close eye on Shaiful Esah, the left back who he has identified as the Lions' dangerman due to his set-piece prowess.
Left-footed Shaiful scored twice and produced one assist off set-pieces against Myanmar on Wednesday.
For Dollah, fouls outside the penalty area are a definite no-no.
"We have to be careful. We have studied Singapore's game against Myanmar and I have to say that Shaiful poses the biggest threat to us.
"Singapore are set-piece specialists and they always score from such situations.
"But we are more than able to keep up because we have tall centre-backs like Afif Amiruddin (1.86m) and Fadhli Shas (1.80m)."
Even with Singapore star defender Baihakki Khaizan suspended, and midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman sidelined with a broken ankle, Dollah maintained no team held any sort of advantage.
"Singapore and Malaysia play each other year in, year out. We know each other's tactics, weaknesses and strengths," he said.
"I'm not saying it will be an easy game, because Singapore have home advantage.
"What matters is how the players play, because the key here is to simply outplay each other."