Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia will play their first home match in Group B of the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 as they host Laos on Saturday knowing that a second straight win would help them take a major step towards reaching the semi-finals.

That first up 1-0 win over Myanmar earlier in the week has put Kim Pan-gon’s side in a strong position in Group B but the Korean coach will surely know that there can’t be any room for complacency against a Laos outfit that remain the outsiders in the group after they suffered a heavy opening defeat against Vietnam.

The Harimau Malaya can count on a strong home support at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in the capital but will be looking for a more polished showing than that which saw them scrape past Myanmar thanks to a late penalty save from Syihan Hazmi that helped preserve all three points after Faisil Halim scored the only goal of the game early in the second half. 

Korean coach, Kim, in his first regional tournament, noted that the opening performance wasn’t always ‘pretty’ but that he remains confident they can continue to build as the tournament progresses, starting with the challenge of Laos.

If history is any indicator then the Harimau Malaya will be heavily favoured heading into the clash, having won 11 and drawn five of the 17 previous encounters between the two teams, whilst it’s five wins and two draws in the seven clashes that the pair have played out down the years in the AFF Championship.

All that doesn’t bode well for a Laos outfit looking to pick themselves up after a 6-0 defeat at home against tournament heavyweights Vietnam earlier in the week.

The positive that coach Michael Weiss can take is that they managed to limited the might of Vietnam for decent stretches of the clash, with four of those six goals coming in the last 35 minutes.

The veteran German coach has conceded that his side are in the ‘formative’ stages of their development and that with the local league not quite at the same level as many others in Southeast Asia he’s under no illusions as to how tough the challenge will be once again against Malaysia.