KUALA LUMPUR, January 22 (Asean Football Championships) – Malaysia coach Norizan Bakar has urged his team to silence their critics when they meet defending champions Singapore in the first leg of their Asean Football Championship semi-final on Tuesday. The two teams face off at Shah Alam Stadium with the Malaysians fortunate to have reached the last four despite losing their final group match against Thailand in Bangkok last week. A 0-0 draw between Myanmar and the Philippines allowed Bakar's team to squeeze into the semi-finals and the coach is determined his team should take advantage of their good fortune.
'The qualifiers and the semi-finals are a different ball game, like comparing a league match to a knockout game,' he said. 'The team is not going to look back any more. 'Everybody knows we have the chance and we might as well take it because we don't know when the next chance will come.' The Malaysians have reached the semi-finals for the fourth event running and are hoping to go one better this time around after losing to Thailand in 2000 and Indonesia in 2002 and 2005. But Bakar is refusing to dwell on the nation's past performances and is keen to quieten those who have slated the nation's lack of success since the tournament was inaugurated in 1996. 'That was two years ago and now we have qualified for this stage,' he said of the 5-3 aggregate loss to Peter Withe's team in the last edition. 'Then it was different players and a different coach and I know that the players want to prove something because of what is being said. 'As a person you can't tolerate it any more and the players want to show something to the locals.' Malaysia will go into the clash without Irwan Fadzli Idrus, who is suspended, with Bakar yet to decide who will take his place. The Singaporeans, meanwhile, will be missing veteran defender S. Subramani due to injury and midfielder Mustafic Fahrudin to suspension. Coach Raddy Avramovic is hoping the heavy tropical rains hold off for the duration of Tuesday evening's game. 'I'm happy to be here because I think we have a good competition in front of us,' said Avramovic, who steered Singapore to the title two years ago. 'We still have good teams in the semi-finals and let's hope that the things around the football, like the weather, will give us a chance to have a good game. From our side everything is in place. 'I would like it if the weather was good tomorrow because it will allow both teams to play well. We are used to the rain, and it's the same for Malaysia, but I don't think that in those conditions you can have a quality game. Other factors decide the game in these conditions.'