Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Lack Of Concentration Costs Laos

Laos were just moments away from a famous victory at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. Twice they led against Indonesia, twice the Indonesians clawed themselves back into the game.

The Laotians have been here before. Back in 2010 they led Thailand 2-0 and were on course for a massive upset in Jakarta before the Thais pulled themselves back in to the game.

Indonesia can be thankful. They got out of jail in this one. After the game their coach, Nil Maizer, praised his players commitment. Maybe they were committed in much the same way that early cavemen were committed to staying alive in the prehistoric swamp amid so many foes. But there was no finesse, no style, no elegance.

Truth be told Indonesia looked less like an international team and more like a Sunday afternoon team playing  on the park in the fog back in England. There were the odd moments of inspiration from Andik Vermansyah but beyond that there was little to get excited about and you just knew when the ref came out for the second half with the match ball wearing an oxygen mask expectations were low all round.

It was Laos who played the more purposeful football. They moved the ball well and were looking for, and often finding, space while Indonesia were content to hoof and hope.

People talk about Indonesia's potential, about them being the Brazil of South East Asia. They are far from that. The promise of 2010 when they lost in the AFF Cup Final to Malaysia has long gone, to be replaced by an organisational mess off the field and a mess on it.

The dismissal of keeper Endra Prasetya in the first half summed up where we are right now. Indonesia came into this competition with just two keepers after Syamsider moved to Mitra Kukar and the team selectors could  not find a replacement.

Yep, I'll rephrase that. In a country with two leagues and, last season, 30 top flight clubs, they could not find one more goal keeper to take with them. Not Ferry Rotinsulu, I Made Wirwawan nor Megia Kurnia. Because players from the Indonesia Super League were prevented from going!

That's right. At ASEAN's showpiece Indonesia were forced to go into the tournament with their hands tied behind their back. Just like they had to when they played Bahrain in the World Cup Qualifier and lost 10-0.

Petty politiciking trumps football good sense.

Raphael Maitimo, a last minute addition to the squad, equalised just before half time, and Vendry Mofu was there to convert when the Laos keeper spilled the ball to save Indonesia's blushes but things don't get any easier.

On Wednesday they play a Singapore team who looked impressive sweeping aside hosts and champions Malaysia!

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