COVID-hit Malaysia ready for AFF Suzuki Cup final rematch against Vietnam

Ahead of their AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 Group B tie against Vietnam, which will be a rematch of the 2018 final, Malaysia's cause has not been helped by a series of COVID-19 cases in the squad.

Having made the decision to only bring 24 players to Singapore, despite the tournament allowing a maximum of 30, Harimau Malaya are almost down to the bare bones after Akhyar Rashid and Quentin Cheng joined Faisal Abdul Halim and Khairulazhan Khalid as having tested positive for coronavirus.

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With defender Dion Cools only joining the team in time for their final group game against Indonesia on Dec. 19 and Junior Eldstal an injury doubt, Malaysia coach Tan Cheng Hoe could potentially have only 18 players to pick from against the defending champions on Sunday.

But having been buoyed by winning their opening two games at the competition -- 3-1 and 4-0 triumphs over Cambodia and Laos respectively -- Tan believes his charges are ready to take on a team they have not enjoyed the best of records against in recent time.

"We know Vietnam have reached a certain level in international football. They definitely have the advantage," he told ESPN.

"We haven't gotten good results against Vietnam since playing against them (on a number of occasions) from 2019. But our boys are looking forward to surprising Vietnam.

"The most important thing is that we have a strategy to play against them and we carry it out."

Despite being runners-up at the last Suzuki Cup, Malaysia headed into the tournament with many uncertain over their status as legitimate challengers but the doubters are slowly being won over after a perfect start from their first two outings.

"You can see the momentum of the team is getting better," added Tan.

"We have had some problems settling in games, and the first ten to 15 minutes have seen teams give us a tough time. I hope we can work hard to improve in this area.

"Most importantly, the players have enjoyed every match and that they continue to step up in each moment. We must have confidence individually and as a team."