Saturday, December 20, 2008


AFF Cup semi finals, second leg

What did we learn from the first legs earlier this week? That Thailand are a good team, Indonesia are limited, Vietnam worked hard and Singapore got lucky.

I hope that Benny Dollo has watched replays of both semi finals.

The way Vietnam tore into the Singaporeans in the first half was impressive. The forwards were the cliched first line of defense while the midfielders hastled and harried and the full backs showed what can happen when you use the whole pitch.

An artist uses all of the canvas available to him and it always puzzles me why coaches don't do the same on the football pitch. The field is, what, 80 yards wide? Two guys bombing down each flank, delivering crosses into the box will always cause panic at the back. Why get bogged down going for slide rule passes in congested midfields?

Last week I asked NAS about comments made by the Thai and Indonesian coaches pre tournament and what he said was most interesting. He said that Raddy encourages his men to slow the game down, play at their pace once in a while. Keep ball.

Obviously didn't work against Vietnam but the ability to slow down, think a bit on the field does no one any harm.

Perhaps Indonesia need to try that. Knock the harem, scarem stuff on the head and get cute. How many times have we seen 40 yard passes from Ismed or Ponaryo looking for a knock down from Bambang. And no one gets up in support.

I saw one example against Thailand which still has me seething in frustration. I think it was Ismed out towards the touch line perhaps 35 yards out. Bambang and Budi were at the back stick and so was the Thai defence. No one seemed to want to go short into the space, use their experience and upset the applecart. Or durian cart in this part of the world.

If I'm noticing this then you can be sure the professionals are as well.

The Thais, Singaporeans, Vietnamese are just that bit smarter. They're not so rigid on the pitch and they have the freedom to move around a bit.

Having Budi try and hold the ball up and wait for support in crowded middle third of the field isn't, again in my feeble opinion, getting the best from his talent. At full flow, running against defenders, going wide, the pull backs. There is a lot in his cupboard but, despite the four goals (!), I don't think we're seeing the best of him.

Peter Reid was disappointed with Thailand's finishing. Maybe I'm easily pleased, I'm used to Arsenal having a low goal per effort ratio, but I was still impressed by Teerathep. It was the type of forward play we rarely get to see in Indonesia.

A big lad, comfortable on the ground, effective down the flanks. Indonesian football is full of lightweight David Speedies. Nowhere have I seen a striker with Teerathep's phsique. Maybe it's the diet. Nobody ever got big eating shit like bakso and indo mie.

The last time Indonesia beat Thailand in Bangkok was in 1985. I was still regular at Arsenal home and away games (we had Mariner and Woodcock up front!), Bambang Pamungkas was about five years old and one of Indonesia's strikers that day was Bambang Nurdiansyah. Now he coaches PSIS and I'm just a geezer with a lap top sitting in Singapore waiting for happy hour somewhere!

Raddy Avramovic has different concerns.

There is no way that Vietnam can play the same way against his Singapore side as they did in Hanoi. Is there? The relentless pressure, especially first half, was, for this neutral, a joy to behold but as I said in my notes at the time they needed a goal. They didn't get it.

Has the baton transfered to Singapore? With home advantage they should be favourites but there will be healthy following of Vietnamese in the stadium tomorrow (wonder if the hookers from Joo Chiat will be there?!) and if they work as hard as they did in Hanoi they could cause an upset.

Singapore perked up after NAS came on. His 'fuck you' attitude could be just what the Lions need to kick start the game and give themselves the advantage.

It should be a lot of fun and for the first time I will be getting to experience the famous Kallang Roar. Images and match report will follow after the game...and beers...and the Arsenal game...ok, maybe on Monday when the hangover has gone!

Have fun in Singapore. I heard the Jakarta Globe is "live-blogging" tonight's semifinal with its Twitter page.
i did consider setting up a twitter acount but realised i hated texting!
I envy you being at the game last night. I can't get Star here in Australia and ESPN don't show Asian games here either (and I can't figure out how to get a live feed over the internet) - but just watched the highlights video on ESPN Star website.

I know a highlights package is a poor substitute for seeing the whole game, but it seemed to me that Singapore was very wasteful and actually created more chances.
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