Monday, December 27, 2010


The Hottest Derby In South East Asia

It’s not often I’ve been to a game and not been able to speak or here the PA over the din of the crowd. Some people may call nigh on 100,000 fans blowing vuvuzulas non stop a great atmosphere but I’m not one of them. It’s an experience much like riding 3rd class from Sungai Golok to Bangkok is an experience and kipping in the back of a car in the Alps in the middle of winter under some potato sacking is an experience. Been there, dunnit but not necessarily something I want repeated.

At the opening group stage game in Jakarta four weeks ago Malaysia had been offered 5,000 tickets. As it happened perhaps two dozen made the effort and they were soon clocked by the home support who pelted them with missiles before the security officials stepped in and moved them somewhere more anonymous.

There were slightly more than 25 Indonesian fans in the Bukit Jalil Stadium for the first leg of the final. Officially they received an allocation of 15,500 and it’s fair to assume there were more than that in the stadium, check out the clip on Jakarta Casual TV. I’s also fair to say they received a better reception from their hosts than Malaysians would have done in Jakarta had they made themselves known.

Unfortunately, without going into too many details, there are certain political elements in Indonesia who like to engage with a bit of Malaysia bashing when it suits their purpose and there is a large segment of the populace that fall for the fake jingoism.

In KL fans from both teams mingled together on the public transport on their way to and from the stadium. Perhaps it’s safety in numbers; even though they were outnumbered perhaps four to one the Indonesians never looked outnumbered.

Nothing ever looked like kicking off either inside or outside the ground that I witnessed. Even when security had to move Malaysian fans into blocks occupied by Indonesian fans, a recipe for disaster in many countries, the ‘infiltration’ seemed to pass off without incident.

It would be nice to think that Malaysia could take a similar large support to Jakarta and enjoy the trip in such a relaxed and carefree environment but unfortunately I can’t see that happening.

Incidentally, on the same day as the semi final in KL, Indonesian fans in Jakarta were queuing for the cheapest seats for the second leg three days later. They went on the rampage and caused damage inside and outside the stadium.

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