The 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup has just ended, which the Thai conquered it for the 5th time. Thailand won the game in Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, 2-0 over Indonesia after lost 2-1 in the first leg away. Siroch Chattong came as the hero for the Thai after scored both goals-although the first was ridiculous and lucky. As a result, a 3-2 score in aggregate for Thailand. Three games, three victories in the group stage, trashing Myanmar 6-0 in the semifinal, and ran to the final without any serious obstacle. They are too strong for Southeast Asia.
We knew that Indonesia were under the FIFA suspension a year ago. In August 2016, FIFA lifted the suspension as a result on 66th congress. Just three months to prepare, Indonesia chose Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vietnam for a friendly matches. Just one victory, two draws, and a lost-good enough for an unprepared team. Plus, a policy that Indonesia were allowed to brought two players from each local club, were made the coach confused. What if good players that deserved to be called up came from a same club? Consequently, many players in the squad were haven’t been represent Indonesia at international level-debutant, such as Hansamu Yama, Muchlis Hadi, Teja Paku Alam, etc. Or less experienced player, such as Lerby Eliandry, Bayu Gatra, and Rudolof Basna. While the other team launched their new kit for the tournament, Indonesia worn their former kit in 2014, just a minor change in the players’ number and font.
Later, Indonesia flew to Philippines to compete in 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup with less-prepared. Many people, even the coach, Alfred Riedl expected Indonesia would eliminated in the group stage, semifinal is the best result that could be happened. But, in the fact, the result that would be happened later was more than just it. Indonesia could ran into the final, and I named the journey as “A Fairytale Run”.
The first game in the group stage was against the defending champion, Thailand. Indonesia lost 4-2 in the first match. Then, Indonesia faced the host, Philippines. A free kick by Phil Younghusband in the last ten minutes broke the party after he scored the equaliser for the Azkals. Indonesia were only had one point in two matches, so Indonesia must to win the last game against Singapore aim to qualify to the semifinal. Khairul Amri scored for Singapore before Andik Vermansyah scored the beautiful equaliser goal. Finally, the dutch-born, Stefano Lilipaly scored the winning goal that let Indonesia through the semifinal.
Semifinal, as written above, is considered as a best result that Indonesia could reach. Vietnam, the winner of group B, faced Indonesia. Surprisingly, Indonesia could beat them in Pakansari Stadium. Hansamu Yama, a debutant, scored the first goal with a brilliant header. Later, Nguyen Van Quyet scored made it all square by scoring a penalty, yet the cause was unknown. Indonesia lead again after Ferdinan Sinaga fouled in the box and Boaz Solossa could convert it. In the second leg, a high pressure and tempo game, but still all square in the first half. Shockingly, Stefano Lilipaly scored an opening after a misscomunication from the goalkeeper and the defender of Vientam. Vientam was down to ten men after the goalkeeper was sent off and the position filled by a defender because the allocation of substitution was ran out.
Vu Minh Tuan and Vu Van Thanh were made the whole stadium cheering again before Manahati Lestusen scored a penalty that silent the stadium. The result is more than just a semifinal, it’s a final! Beyond everybody’s expectation, a less-prepared squad could ran to the final. Just like how Leicester City won the Premier League, RB Leipzig’s thirteen game unbeaten streak, and Portugal won the Euro 2016, it is how Indonesia climbed to the final. Unexpected, but it was all good. The first was underrated, but fussing in the end. In the other side, Thailand were too perfect for Myanmar, a six without reply in aggregate.
Same as the semifinal, the final round would play in two leg game. The first leg was played at Pakansari Stadium, the home of Indonesia. Teerasil Dangda scored the opener in the 31st minute. Then, Rizky Pora made a shot but deflected by the defender so it was 1-1. Later, at the 70th minute, a jump by Hansamu Yama made a comeback for Indonesia. 2-1 in the scoresheet for the first leg. A feel of champion, beat the king of Southeast Asia. But, the game was not over, they were still a second leg that would played in Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok. Of course, it wouldn’t be friendly for Indonesia, as said by the coach of Thailand, Kiatisuk Senamuang. Thailand would made pressure in every aspects to brought their 5th title rather than let Indonesia brought their 1st to the cabinet.
The game was still all fine before the 37th minute. The disaster came from Siroch Chattong. Ridiculous but lucky goal after Fachrudin Aryanto failed to made a clearance. 2-2 in aggregate but the Thai lead on the away goals rule. Ten minutes later, the same player scored a beauty and made it 2-0 for Thailand, an absolute win for them. Later, Indonesia seems powerless to face Thailand there. Luckily, Kurnia Meiga could make a beautiful save from Teerasil Dangda’s penalty, so the score is still 2-0. Finally, the referee blew the final whistle, made Thailand lifted their 5th trophy in front of their spectators. A lost for Indonesia, but it was a peak for Indonesia’s struggle. Indonesia gained a better result than Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Philippines-a well prepared team. Yet, Indonesia still unable to win the tournament after being the runner up for the 5th time. This “runner up” result should be praised, different from the 2010. In 2010, Indonesia easily ran to the final but tragically lost to Malaysia. In 2016, lost, draws, struggles, extra time, injuries, drama, emotions, cheers fused into one. Runner up is more than expected before. Thank you for all your struggle, your effort to reach the final, don’t give up!
Plus, congratulations for Thailand for your 5th title. Maybe next time you should focus on your way to reach the Asian Cup or World Cup spots, so the title will be grab by the others.