Monday, December 27, 2010
Malaysia v Indonesia 3-0
In front of a wildly passionate crowd Indonesia, playing their first away game under Alfred Riedl, were asked questions like they never had been before as Malaysia, knowing they needed a cushion to take to Jakarta on Wednesday in the second leg, set about them from the get go.
Malaysia had done their homework. They knew that Indonesia’s greatest threat came down the flanks through players like Oktavianus and M Ridwan. Their supply dried up in the first half to such an extent that it was down to the combatative Ahmad Bustomi to provide much of the creative flair in a first half best forgotten by the away team.
The seeds of Indonesia’s defeat were nurtured during that torrid opening 45 minutes. Twice, at corners, keeper Markus Horison complained that lasers were being aimed at him. Match officials discussed with the AFF Cup officials and extra security personnel were placed round the stadium in the hope of stopping the offenders.
Before the game Indonesia had raised the topic of lasers, accusations had been made by Vietnam that their keeper had been distracted by them leading him to spill the ball twice in their 2-0 defeat in the first leg of the semi final. Indonesia had said that if they were victims of laser attack they would walk off. Each time the animated Horison protested brought a walk off closer.
Second half Indonesia started better and even had the ball in the net but the effort, by Christian Gonzalez, was disallowed. But they were playing much better, moving the ball around and getting the wide players involved more. As so often happens it looked like Malaysia could yet rue their missed opportunities.
Then came the defining moment of the Final. Another corner, this time at the end where the Indonesian fans were congregated. Again Indonesia protested a laser and this time, caught up in the moment, they walked off. The suits came down from the grandstand and hummed and haaed while the players from both sides milled around the touch line. But while Indonesia played the victim card the Malaysians did what they had done in Hanoi against Vietnam in the second leg of the semi final. They stayed focused.
The Malaysian fans responded to the walk off in a calm manner. They understood the talk of lasers and the accusations made by the Vietnamese and they wanted no truck with the idiots who may have been shining the lights. It was a mature response from the fans and, not for the first time during the evening, you couldn’t help but wonder how the Indonesian fans would have responded if the same had occurred at the Bung Karno Stadium.
When the players came back on the field to restart after a few minutes break Indonesia were beaten. Their second half momentum had been lost, their discipline gone. Malaysia retook the initiative and minutes after the restart they were in the lead. Victory was theirs.
For Indonesia it was a case of what might have been. Who knows what would have happened had they been able to build on their promising start to the second half. At a time when they needed leadership the most on the field there was nothing forthcoming. Instead they fell all too easily into victim mode.
UPDATE - OK, so it wasn't a walk off!