|Birthday Boy Abdul Hadi Yahya will be looking for some presents in Vinh today|
Terengganu will find themselves in a rather unfamiliar territory today, literally and metaphorically when they take on Song Lam Nghe Ahn (SLNA) in the opening match of 2012 AFC Cup competition, Group F.
Playing in Vinh, a city in the north-eastern part of Vietnam, the surroundings would be very unfamiliar to the ones the players used to when they are playing in the Malaysian Super League. With the climate expected to be cooler than at home and a partisan home support, it will be a new experience for most in the Terengganu squad.
Being their first foray into continental competition, Terengganu are really in uncharted waters.
However, with the squad comprising of Malaysian internationals such as Sharbinee Allawee, Muslim Ahmad, Faizal Mohamad, Mazlizam Mohamad, Zubir Azmi, Shukur Jusoh, Ashaari Shamsuddin, Abdul Hadi Yahya and Abdul Manaf Mamat; The Turtles are expected to be adaptable to the situation.
Adding to the equation, the experience of Francis Doe and Biaiano playing their trade in top class league before coming to Terengganu, it is expected they will be able to get the necessary result in Vinh in order to make a good start to the competition.
SLNA on the other hand are the reigning Vietnam League Champions and have played in the Asian Champions League before in 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons. Last season they managed to get through to the second round of the AFC Cup but lost to Indonesian club, Persipura.
Currently they are lying fifth in the Vietnamese Super League after eight matches. They are on an unbeaten run but could only register two wins so far, and only one of them was at home. Thus Terengganu could be looking at a draw at least in this fixture.
SLNA's main threat would come from their import trio, forwards Gustave Bebbe and Abbas Cheikh Dieng and playmaker Hughton Hector. Apart from the three, the defence will be marshalled by the experienced, Nguyen Huy Hoang while local fans would be looking to Nguyen Trong Hoang and Pham Van Quyen to provide the thrust to their attack.
Ganuans are definitely looking for their beloved Turtles to bring home all three points but with this being their first continental tournament, a point from a good performance would be enough to instil confidence for their next match against Hong Kong side Kitchee on March 20 at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium.