Stange wants Lions to be wary of ‘wounded’ Malaysia

Bernd Stange believes his Singapore side cannot afford complacency in their highly-anticipated 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup clash with bitter rivals Malaysia.

Currently second in Group B after picking up three points from their opening two games, the Lions only need a draw in Saturday’s highly-anticipated clash at the National Stadium to secure their place in the sem-finals, unless Myanmar somehow manage to defeat Thailand by three or more goals in the other game and have a better ‘goals scored’ tally.

But although his side appeared to be in pole position to join the Thais in advancing from the group, Stange is adamant they cannot take anything for granted.

“It’s a big clash tomorrow [Saturday] and I have respect for this Malaysia team,” he said.

“They are a wounded animal after the results in this tournament and that’s why this team is extremely dangerous.

“We have to be prepared.”

The Singaporeans were dealt a real blow in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Laos after Shahdan Sulaiman was ruled out for the remainder of the tournament, following a horrific injury that resulted in him fracturing his fibula and dislocating his ankle.

Apart from the classy playmaker, the Lions could also miss right-back Ismadi Mukhtar, who came off injured on Wednesday as well, along with suspended centre-back Baihakki Khaizan.

Still, Stange has backed his team to cope with the absences and give the fans what they are after – a derby victory over their neighbours.

“Baihakki and Shahdan are key players but they are out and we will have to replace both,” the German added.

“But we still have 20 players available and we will see how to manage that.

“It’s a miss to lose two experienced players but I think we are well prepared and we know what we have to do.

“It’s the first match in Singapore in a fully-packed stadium here and I’m excited. Hopefully, both teams can perform on a very good level to promote our game and to win the hearts of Singaporean football fans.”

Meanwhile, Malaysia boss Dollah Salleh has declared his side will be going all out to claim the win that will give them a chance of qualifying – even though he admits it will be far from easy.

“We desperately need a win to make sure we qualify, but I believe it won’t be easy,” he said.

“Still, we will give it our very best and try to give the Malaysian fans something to cheer about.”

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