Monday, November 28, 2016


Surprise Semi Final Brings Stadium Headache For Indonesia

What do Brexiters, Trump and the PSSI have in common? A failure to anticipate victory! After the opening 45 minutes against Thailand, 2-0 down, out fought and out thought how many people seriously gave Indonesia any hope of reaching the semi finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup?

But they did and when the final whistle blew at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila and the Garuda had confounded the so called experts the travelling fans on the open terrace where belting out Indonesia Raya with full gutso and high fiving each other, making vague promises to reunite acquaintanships in Hanoi for the semi final.

That was the easy bit. Vietnam's international stadium of choice is My Dinh. And Indonesia's default national stadium is Bung Karno in Jakarta. But that 88000 plus seater bowl in the heart of the capital city is currently being renovated ahead of the Asian Games which Indonesia will hold in 2018.

As Indonesia headed for home from a drizzly Manila the new PSSI leadership found themselves with a decision to make. Where to play the first leg home tie?

The usual suspects were thrown up. Manahan Stadium in Solo. GLBA Stadium in Bandung. Jakabaring Stadium in Palembang. Some wags on Twitter even suggested Palaran Stadium, a white elephant of an arnea on the outskirts of Samarinda, far from  a nearby international airport.

Fact is, there is no plan B cor an international stadium in Indonesia that is accessible and comfotrable. Surabaya's Bung Tomo can hold a large crowd but access, like so many new arenas in the country, access is a nightmare.

It's a sad state of affairs that such a simple question should find a simple answer so elusive but while there has been a number of new stadiums constructed over the last few years they have been geared towards local events while paying lip service to international standards.  The last time Indonesia reached the semi final, the crowd was something around the 90000 mark. This time round if we see a third of that we will be doing well.

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