Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:China coach Zhu Guanghu plans to spring some surprises to counter the expected heat and Malaysia's home ground advantage in their opening Asian Cup clash on Tuesday.
Malaysia is the lowest ranked of the 16 teams in the region's flagship soccer tournament, but is desperate not to lose face in front of thousands of supporters who are expected to throng the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
Zhu acknowledged that Malaysia has the benefit of being more familiar with playing in Southeast Asia's hot, humid climate, and to counter that his team would have to adapt its game plan.
"We may play a different style to try to win the game," Zhu told reporters Monday. "We know that the opening match would be very difficult, especially when we play against the host. But we will try our best to conquer all the difficulties."
Veteran Manchester City defender Sun Jihai said China is also contemplating whether to attack more or to play defensively.
"What we can guarantee is that we will show the fans a fantastic competition," Sun said. "All our players are ready. We will play as a team, not as individuals."
Zhu said Malaysia had improved a lot recently, and noted that rival coach, Norizan Bakar, had attempted to broaden his squad's depth by recruiting taller players.
Norizan declared his entire team "injury-free," adding that Malaysia is also encouraged by the strong performances of other Asian Cup co-hosts in their opening matches: Vietnam upset Gulf Cup champion United Arab Emirates 2-0 and Thailand held Olympic semifinalist Iraq to a 1-1 draw.
"We hope our fans will turn up in full force to support us," Norizan said.
Both Zhu and Norizan are under pressure to deliver a victory following heavy criticism for relatively disappointing performances by their teams in the run-up to their Group C matches.
Malaysian forward Hairuddin Omar vowed he would give supporters something to cheer.
"I will score against China," said Hairuddin, a proven goal scorer for both his club and the national squad.