One of just four nations to have won the AFF Suzuki Cup, Malaysia head into the current edition in a transitional phase under a new coach but remain confident of being a major player in the title race.

In the midst of a disappointing campaign in 2016, where they failed to progress from the group stage, one of the real bright spots for Malaysia was the form of fullback Matthew Davies.

Still at the relatively tender age of 23 the Pahang man looms as a key figure in Malaysia’s charge later this year and he’s said he’s excited with the brand of football the nation is set to play under new coach Tan Cheng Hoe.

“He has done really well with Kedah in the local league and likes to play a more possession based style of football and wants to keep the ball on the ground rather than going long so we should be exciting to watch.”

The dynamic right-sided fullback also noted that with the success of the Under 23 side at this year’s AFC Championships that there’s a real buzz around Malaysian football at the moment although he cautioned that the team is one building for the future as much as it is aiming for immediate success.

“We’re going through a nice transition at the moment but there’s definitely a good buzz heading into the Suzuki Cup on the back of how the U23s played and combined with those younger players and the experience and level heads of the senior players we’re banking on that combination being successful.

“Having said that there are no outrageous expectations on us and definitely the likes of Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines with their recent success will have higher expectations than us.

“For me personally though I feel I learned a lot from the experience in 2016 and have a better understanding of the sense of occasion that comes with the Suzuki Cup, learning more about its history and the rivalries between nations and I’m definitely excited about what we can do this year.”

Whilst noting that Malaysia will have to draw one of the top seeds in either Thailand or Vietnam but ultimately have to beat all comers if they are to lift the trophy, Davies said that the new format, where all nations have to play home and away, has definitely got football fans in Malaysia excited.

“I think it’s a really good change and gives all nations the chance to be involved so that you don’t always feel far away from the action and I’m sure we’ll get very good support in our home matches.”