Bangkok: Malaysia head coach Tan Cheng Hoe felt that cool heads were key to his side’s success in overcoming defending champions Thailand to reach the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup final. 

With the score tied at 2-2 and the Harimau Malaya set to progress on away goals, the Thais were awarded a penalty in added time to give them the perfect opportunity to go through. But, even then, Tan had faith that his side would prevail and this faith was rewarded when Adisak Kraisorn hit the spot-kick well over the bar. 

“I was calm,” said Tan. “I was hopeful that Farizal (Marlias) would save the penalty because we had watched videos of Adisak taking penalties.”

Tan was delighted with the composure of his players in such a challenging environment as, despite going behind twice, they managed to fight back and achieve the required result.

“In the first half, the players did very well to get the score at 1-1,” said Tan. “Then in the second half, we needed to be composed. We needed to keep possession of the ball but at the same time, we needed to be focused on the counter attack and sometimes set pieces from the Thai team.

“I feel in the second half, the players showed good tactical discipline and I think in the end it was an amazing result.”

While he admits that taking the next step and winning the final will be another huge test for his side, Tan – who was assistant coach when Malaysia last won the tournament in 2010 -  feels that the first leg in Kuala Lumpur will be key to the outcome.

“The players and the team are improving in everything,” said Tan. “You can see they progress together. In the final, first we play at home. We need to take our chances there and we need to keep playing the way we have been and keep up the good momentum.”