Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal is looking for another big game from striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha in the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final second leg with Thailand on Thursday after his heroics during the 1-1 draw at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
Norshahrul, playing on his own up front in the absence of normal strike partner Safee Sali, opened the scoring for the defending champions with a great header and was a constant menace to the Thai defence in a thrilling encounter that was a great advertisement for Asean football.
“On Sunday, we stunned Thailand by taking the lead through Norshahrul. He was the lone striker and he was causing them a lot of problems,” Rajagobal told The Star.
“I hope to see him in his element again in Bangkok.”
The Harimau Malaya will take on three-time winners Thailand before an expected full-house crowd at the Supachalasai Stadium but Rajagobal is hopeful Malaysia can again rise to the occasion.
“No doubt, it’s going to be tough for us with Thailand having home ground advantage. But football is a funny game and anything can happen. I’m still optimistic of getting a result in Bangkok,” he said.
“The players were playing above themselves (against Thailand on Sunday). If we can repeat the same performance, we can spring an upset.”
Safee, who has been troubled by a hamstring injury, came on as a substitute in the 75th minute on Sunday and should be fit enough to start on Thursday if Rajagobal reverts to a two-man strike force.
Midfielder Khyril Muhymeen Zambri is also training again after sitting out Sunday’s game with a groin strain.
Malaysia ‘keeper Farizal Marlias said that the defence would have to keep a close eye on Teerasil Dangda, who grabbed the equaliser on Sunday with a bullet header.
“Teerasil took the chance well. We will have to watch him in the return leg as he is very lethal in front of goal,” he said. “We still have a fight in Bangkok. We must not be afraid to attack and win there.
“(But) we must not hand another opportunity to him (Teerasil).”
Thailand coach Winfried Schafer, sent to the stands on Sunday by the referee after what he says was a misunderstanding, will be banned from the dug-out on Thursday with assistant coach Mano Polking giving the orders to the team.
"I think that there should be no problem,” said Schafer. “Mano and the team can handle the situation.”
Although a 0-0 draw would see Thailand progress to the final by dint of their away goal, Schafer said that they would be looking for a victory.
"We will do our best to get a clear-cut result. I'd like Thai fans to pack the stadium," he said.
The winner of Thursday’s semi will meet Singapore or the Philippines in the two-legged final for the biggest prize in South-East Asian football.
Singapore will host the second leg on Wednesday at the Jalan Besar Stadium after the first match in Manila ended in a scoreless draw.
Source : Aff Suzuki official page