Malaysia midfielder Gary Steven Robbat is hoping to regain his midfield spot when the Harimau Malaya take on Singapore in a do-or-die clash on Saturday night.
Robbat was dismissed for a second bookable offence after just 35 minutes into the Malaysians’ Group B opener against Myanmar, leaving his side having to play out majority of the game with 10 men.
His absence in the midfield proved crucial as the 2010 winners eventually had to settle for a draw, dropping two valuable points in the process.
Speaking to FourFourTwo after Thursday’s training session at the Bishan Stadium, Robbat admitted his challenge on Kyi Lin, which led to the red card, was something that was avoidable.
“It was an unnecessary and stupid thing to do,” he said.
“I went out at a very early stage of the game and I put my teammates into a very tough situation.
“But I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t do it again in the future.”
In his absence, Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh opted to slot Safiq Rahim into the void for the second game against Thailand and the experienced playmaker turned in an impressive display, which included a brilliant individual effort that gave them a 2-1 lead at one point.
Robbat reckoned it will be an uphill task trying to reclaim his spot in Dollah’s starting eleven.
"It’s going to be difficult for me to get back in,” he said.
“Safiq is an experienced player who has played in big tournaments like this, so he has the advantage.
“I’ve been trying hard in training to impress because I really want to play against Singapore.
“If the coach does let me start, I’ll show what I’m capable of.”
Following the crushing last-gasp loss to Thailand, Malaysia are now in third place in Group B – two points behind arch-rivals Singapore.
Nothing less than a win for the Harimau Malaya will see them fail to make the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time since 2008 – a scenario that Robbat hopes to avert.
“Although the result didn’t go our way, we did very well against Thailand and we need to do more of the same,” he said.
“Singapore play a very disciplined game, so we have to play as a team in order to beat them.
“Although they can defend well, I think our strikers like Norshahrul [Idlan Talaha] and Safee [Sali] can beat them.”
The new Pahang midfielder also said the Malaysians have a score to settle with their neighbours, as they were on the receiving end of a 3-0 drubbing by the Lions in their last AFF Suzuki Cup encounter in 2012.
“That three-goal loss was really bad on us,” recalled the 22-year-old who was an unused substitute that day.
“Now we really want to prove a point against them and show that we have the ability to beat them."