SEA GAMES: Hosts desperate to win the mother of all gold medalsNATIONAL Under-23 captain Irfan Fazail believes the pressure is more on Myanmar to win the Sea Games football gold, compared to Malaysia.
Regarded as the mother of all gold medals in the Sea Games, Malaysia are the two-time defending champions.
Myanmar are confident of ending Malaysia's reign as they have spent the last two years preparing for the Games.
Ong Kim Swee's squad have not forgotten last year's bitter experience in the Under-22 AFC Cup Qualifier, where Myanmar allegedly used over-aged players in the competition and a win on Myanmar's turf in the Sea Games will erase the bad memories.
Malaysia received an early boost in September by overcoming Myanmar 2-0 in the Merdeka Tournament final in Kuantan but it has to be said their opponents were not at their best then.
Myanmar will be backed by partisan fans in Naypyitaw and Malaysia can expect a torrid time if they play the hosts in the semi-finals or final.
Malaysia are in Group A with Brunei, Laos, Singapore and Vietnam while Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Timor Leste make up Group B.
Irfan, however, is confident Malaysia will be able to contain Myanmar's challenge should they meet.
"What is important is team work. I believe if we play to instructions, we will get good results," said Irfan yesterday.
"The football gold medal means a lot to everyone. Myanmar want to win it this time. It is understandable as they are playing at home.
"The pressure, however, is not on us but on them. As for us, our fans are also expecting us to retain the title. It will be an exciting and interesting tournament."
Kim Swee echoed Irfan's views but said the pressure from fans will be immense if Malaysia play Myanmar in the knock-out stage.
"In Indonesia two years ago, we were escorted by the police in a 'barracuda' in and out of the stadium before and after the final in Jakarta. I don't know what to expect in Naypyitaw should we play Myanmar.
"It will be a challenge for my players but they need to be strong. I am not questioning the safety issues but things could happen," said Kim Swee.
The former international will announce the 20-member squad today.