Sunday, December 02, 2012


Malaysia & Singapore Look Forward To Semi Final Dates

I always felt Group B was the trickiest and most interesting group of the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Cup. Holders and hosts Malaysia went into the competition on the back of a string of poor results in friendlies and their opening defeat against Singapore had a hysterical nation all but calling for Rajagopal's ouster.

One national paper went so far to describe the current pathetic state of football in Malaysia. Remember this pathetic state has seen Malaysia win two SEA Games titles to go along with their AFF Cup 2010 and despite their 3-0 reverse at the hands of Singapore they were not finished this time round.

Laos on the other continued to surprise the uninformed; which apparently included the Indonesian manager who described them somewhat smugly as not well developed. As it happened it was Indonesia who were lucky to escape with a draw in their opening game thanks to Vendry Mofu's opportunism from close range.

Going into the second match day and it seemed many Malaysian fans agreed with the bullshit that followed their opening defeat, despite the fact that two years previously they had been routed 5-1 by Indonesia in their opening game and went on to win the game.

The fans stayed away and missed seeing their team, after some early struggles, finally crush Laos 4-1. History will record a convincing victory but for long periods it was in doubt and shows the value of quality players in times of adversity.

In the other game that day Indonesia somewhat fortuitously defeated Singapore 1-0 thanks to Andik Vermansyah's late free kick, echos of Ronaldhino and Seaman in 2002, and found themselves on top of the group despite convincing few. Beyond Vermansyah there seemed little in the team beyond the roar of their supporters to get the ball forward as quickly as possible.

On the final match day of the group stage everything was still to play for. Malaysian fans, buoyed by the victory over Laos, started believing again while 15,000 Indonesian defied logic and filled one end of the Bukit Jalil Stadium hoping for a miracle.

Not for the first time Andik was left on the bench; perhaps Nil Maizer's strategy was to inspire fear into his opponents by implying what started was his first eleven...and Andik couldn't get in that team. As a mind game it is doomed to failure as any coach will know once he sees how Indonesia played. Aimless puts a positive spin on it.

Without the promising Andik, who recently spent time on loan with DC United in the US MLS, not because of their extensive scouting network but because their owner is an Indonesian, there was little inspiration for the merah putih though the likes of Taufik, Wayhu and Vendry Mofu did their best tomake an impression.

Malaysia on the other hand boasted players like Safee Sali and Norshahrul as well as one of the new, younger breed coming through Wan Zack, players who could do something. And did.

The hosts run out comfortable 2-0 winners on a passionate evening in front of a near capacity crowd and Malaysia were looking forward to a semi final date with Thailand less than a week after their fans started leaving the stadium in droves after Duric had made it 3-0 for Singapore.

Such has been the wow factor of Group B that at one stage Indonesia, despite being 2-0 down, were actually contemplating a semi final spot of their own. Over at Shah Alam Stadium Laos were leading Singapore 2-1 at half time. But the Lions clawed their way back into the game and eventually run out narrow 4-3 winners to secure their own spot in the semi finals.

1 - Malaysia 3 2 0 1 6-4 6
2 - Singapore 3 2 0 1 7-4 6
3 - Indonesia 3 1 1 1 3-4 6
4 - Laos 3 0 1 2 6-9 1

Semi Finals

08/12 Philippines v Singapore
09/12 Malaysia v Thailand
12/12 Singapore v Philippines
13/12 Thailand v Malaysia

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