Coach Toshyia Miura believes that even though Malaysia are strong team, Vietnam will still emerge the winner in the semi-final match of the ASEAN Football Federation-Suzuki Cup this weekend.

Miura says Malaysia played well in the recent friendly match against Vietnam and they had their opener. Vietnam could only overcome them after they suffered a red card and were down by a player.

However, it was only a friendly match and both the teams were testing their line-ups. In such a scenario, the win did not mean anything.

In the forthcoming matches, the small details could prove to be a big advantage.

The Japanese coach appreciated the physical prowess of the Malaysian players who have honed their technique and exhibit good speed, qualities that had shone through the group round.

Miura, who has been studying his rivals, said he himself trusted Vietnam's power although one of their best strikers, Vu Minh Tuan, will stay on the side lines because of two yellow cards.

He said Tuan contributed a lot to the team's victories, but the absence of key players in teams is something that happens frequently and coaches always find a suitable replacement to ensure that the team plays well. Miura's situation was no different.

Vietnam will travel to Kuala Lumpur on December 3 to visit the 87,400-seat stadium Bukit Jalil. The 51-year-old coach is excited at the challenge.

He believed his players would be able to focus hard and make a strong effort in that match although there would be strong pressure from local fans.

He gave the example of Laos, a team that played much better than their usual selves simply because it was facing aggressive Vietnamese fans at the My Dinh Stadium.

Miura who has not yet finalised his semi-final line-up says he has also not decided how to play against Malaysia, adding that he is weighing his options between focussing on defending or adopting counter-attack tactics.

The difference in climate between the two countries is one factor that makes Miura worry.

He said the sudden change in weather when they will be flying from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur would make his players feel tired and that may lessen their excitement. No wonder he wants to arrive at the destination as soon as possible so that players could familiarise themselves with the changed atmosphere.

Agreeing with the coach, top Vietnamese hitman Le Cong Vinh assured that he will be playing even better in the semi-finals.

"I'm feeling really good at the moment," said the 28-year-old who plays for Binh Duong in the V-League.

"After scoring two goals in the group stage, I feel that I'm getting the feel of the game back at the international level. I believe that I can be even better in the semi-finals. It will be tough against Malaysia, and I'm looking forward to it." Vinh has collected two goals after three matches in the group round.

Left defender Nguyen Xuan Thanh, who is racing against time to overcome his right knee's torn ligament for the December 7 match, said Vietnam could beat Malaysia.

"If we are able to concentrate and limit our mistakes, we could keep our net clean and then beat them," Thanh said.

Malaysia also suffered a big loss ahead of the game.

The 3-1 victory over Singapore last week also saw second yellow cards given to key players — Captain Shukor Adan and striker Amri Yahyah.

Coach Dollah Salleh of Malaysia seemed a worried man as these players had always been an indispensable part of the team and he did not have much time to look for suitable substitutes.

The semi-finals' first leg will be organised on December 7 and the second leg will be played four days later at My Dinh.-VNA