Monday, November 21, 2011
SEA Games Final Preview
It’s the dream final for the SEA Games. A repeat of last year’s ASEAN Cup, albeit at Under 23, today’s final between Indonesia and Malaysia will keep the organizers happy as fans queue to see the two foes go head to head for local pride.
At least 88,000 are expected to fill the Bung Karno with the vast majority hoping to see the local side win and the Malaysians humiliated. The two sides though will go into the game with different agendas.
Indonesia need a trophy. Any trophy. The football daft country has gone decades without a sniff of success and with the domestic game in disarray the sight of captain Egi Melgiansyah lifting the trophy tonight will be a massive shot in the arm for the people and the country.
Malaysia though may have their eyes, at least subconsciously, on a bigger prize. They have the SEA Games already, and the ASEAN Cup. But their eyes are fixed firmly on bigger things and once the houhah surrounding the SEA Games has faded they will be focusing on their Olympics Qualifiers against Syria and Bahrain.
With some players missing from their final line up Malaysia won’t of course allow themselves to be rolled over by their Indonesian cousins. Local pride, and football, won’t allow that. But defeat for Malaysia won’t necessarily be a disaster, not if they can move one step closer to their ultimate prize of London next year.
These boys are unlikely to be fazed by the Bung Karno full house. After all some of them played in the stadium when they won the AFF Cup last year. And having won in the group stage and played in Slovakia they are used to hostility and have overcome it in the past.
Rahmad Darmawan has no such consolation. Indeed the chances are high he will be given the reigns of the national team, a poisoned chalice if ever there was one, after the SEA Games has finished. He has been without doubt the most successful Indonesian coach of recent years winning the title with Persipura (2005) and Sriwijaya (2007) as well as a number of Cup triumphs.
But anything less than winning tonight won’t be accepted by the myopic home support who see home advantage and the power of the young Papuan players as their surest guarantee of success.
Like Malaysia RD is used to winning trophies. His players are not. At times it seems like sheer exuberance has helped them get this far and it remains to be seen whether the 1-0 defeat against Malaysia in the group stage hangs heavy in the players’ minds.
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