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Believe in yourselves and you will win: Calisto tells his players

HANOI (Dec 27, 2008) – 'Believe in yourselves and you will win the title' was the message Vietnam coach Henrique Calisto has been drumming into his players minds. "It's time to stop being scared and play our game. It's going to be a very very difficult game...we must believe we can," the Portuguese coach added ahead of tomorrow's AFF Suzuki Cup second leg final at the My Dinh Stadium here.

In the first leg final in Bangkok on Christmas eve, Vietnam took a stunning 2-1 lead with goals from Nguyen Vu Phong and star striker Le Cong Vinh. Thailand replied through super-sub Ronnachai Rangsiyo.

Calisto, during the pre-match conference, told a packed room of journalists that Vietnam must remain focussed throughout the match. "We are so near the trophy but if we let up even for a moment and lose concentration, it will be a problem," the coach warned as he glanced at the prestigious trophy placed beside him.

"I will not touch the trophy just yet," said Calisto when asked by a journalist to describe what it felt to hold the Cup. "It must be at the right moment. Right now, our focus is on the game. In the last 10 games we have only lost once, now we have only one more game to go."

That loss was to Thailand in the group stage when Vietnam went down 2-0 in Phuket. "Of course it will be difficult against Thailand, they are a very good team. But in the last three matches with them, the result has been a draw, loss and a win.

After the stunning result in Bangkok, Calisto has been working hard to prepare his boys mentally for the game at home. He knows that like Thailand who fumbled in front of their own fans, Vietnam could quite as easily be struck down by the same problem if they lost concentration.

And with an expected capacity crowd of over 40,000, and millions more throughout the country famished for a win, the pressure could well get to Vietnam. The last time they made the final of this tournament was exactly 10 years ago when they faced Singapore in the final here in Vietnam. The hosts went down to a lucky goal from Singapore's R. Sasi Kumar.

Vietnam, who shocked the defending champions in the semifinals with a sensational goal at the National Stadium in Singapore, have the chance to make amends and deliver the title to their fans 10 years down the road.

"All players will feel the pressure ahead of such a big game. It's normal to be nervous but it's important that they remain confident. After Bangkok, we have been mentally preparing the team for this game."

"I told the players, Thailand can win if we do not play our game. We just have one more game to go and must make the best of it. I don't sell illusions, what I want to sell today is that we are ready to win."