Backed by one of the most passionate fan bases in Southeast Asia, Malaysia coach Tan Cheng Hoe knows the pressure will be on when he takes charge of the national team at his first AFF Suzuki Cup next month but he’s vowed to bring his renowned attacking brand of football with him to the regional stage.

Appointed after the departure of Nelo Vingada last December, Tan has long been regarded as one of the most attack-minded coaches in Malaysia and that’s raised expectations that the Harimau Malaya could be the entertainers of this year’s competition.

“Of course there are time limitations in trying to do what you did at club level with the national team and when I was with Kedah we could develop the tactical philosophy week-by-week.

“It is my aim to try and do that with Malaysia though and keep adapting the way that the national team plays and so far it’s been going well and the players have been adjusting so I have no complaints with how we are shaping up and with three more friendly matches to come I’m sure we’ll be ready to show what we can do at the Suzuki Cup.”

Those tune-up matches are against Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan and the Maldives and they’ll be vital keys for just who will make the final squad as Tan looks to use the AFF Suzuki Cup as the start of what he hopes will be a period of renewed success for Malaysia.

“If you look at the performances of the youth teams in recent years we can say that the future is bright for Malaysian football with the U23 team doing well at the Asian Games and the AFC Championships and also the U19 team has been performing well too.

“Equally we know that the senior team hasn’t performed as well as we would have liked in the past few years so the players have to work hard in this new environment because whilst the long-term aim is to try and qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup, our immediate target is to do well in this AFF Suzuki Cup.”

Having failed to progress from the Group Stage two years ago, Tan knows that must be the minimum target for 2018 even in a section that will present several tough challenges.

“Every coach and player will tell you that they want to win the competition but there can be only one champion so we have to consider firstly making the semifinals and then after that we have the motivation to keep going from there.

“It’s important to take every game one at a time because we didn’t qualify for the semifinals in 2016 and we know just how tough the group is.

“Cambodia have a new coach and everybody knows with his record as a player they will have a lot of motivation to do well, Myanmar are an up-and-coming nation and we’ve all seen the success that Vietnam have had over the past few years.

“They are a mobile side with good ability and they’re strong defensively too so we need to remain committed and show a strong fighting spirit in each of our matches.

“I knew when I was appointed that there was pressure but now we have the advantage of being able to play at home in the group stage so we are ready to show what we can do.”