Another AFF Championship, another head coach at the helm for Malaysia. For the 2004 edition, Bertalan Bisckei was given the mandate to take Malaysia to glory but even with the South-East Asian giant Thailand falling on the wayside, could only take the national team to third spot.
The Hungarian did however become the only coach to take the much-maligned but talented Khalid Jamlus to the regional tournament. With Vietnam and Malaysia joint-hosting the 2004 edition, Bisckei had the home advantage going into Group B matches against Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines and Timor Leste.
Malaysia started on the front foot and plundered in nine goals in two matches against Timor Leste and Philippines Khalid leading the line and supported by the surging runs of Liew Kit Kong from the right hand side. However, the positive ended in the subsequent game as Myanmar delivered a hammer blow to give the host their first defeat of the campaign.
To their credit, Malaysia recovered fantastically to end Thailand's dream when Khalid rose to the occasion to score two quick-fire goals in Thailand's only defeat of the group stage. That win was enough to take the Tigers through to the semi-final but the earlier loss meant that Myanmar finished top of the group and it provided Malaysia a tough semi-final against the free-scoring Indonesian team.
Peter Withe's Indonesia team had earlier scored 17 goals without reply in Group A and Bisckei had to work out a strategy to put a stop to the impressive strikeforce of Kurniawan Yulianto, Ilham Jaya, Boas Solossa and Elie Aiboy. Bisckei had the right plan in the first leg away in Jakarta to edge out an important 2-1 win that meant Malaysia took on the favourites tag going into the second leg.
It was to be a false dawn for Bisckei in the second leg even after Khalid had opened the scoring in the first half to give Malaysia a slightly comfortable 3-1 lead on aggregate. However, a second half defensive collapse saw the Indonesian engine clicked into gear as they replied back with four goals of the own to eventually go through to the final on a 5-3 win.
Malaysia did managed one final effort in the third-place playoff to exact revenge on Myanmar with goals from Khalid and Nor Ismail to secure a 2-1 win that matched the position earned by the 2000 AFF team.