The Jakarta Post
Indonesia will look to seek revenge for a group stage loss when it plays Vietnam in the soccer final of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines on Tuesday.
The Red and White squad advanced to the final after defeating Myanmar 4-2 in extra time at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on Saturday. Meanwhile, Vietnam defeated Cambodia 4-0 in the other semifinal match of the day.
A victory for Indonesia on Tuesday would see SEA Games history repeat itself. At the 1991 final, Indonesia won at Rizal Memorial Stadium, defeating Thailand 4-3 on penalties.
Indonesia head coach Indra Sjafri said he appreciated all players on the team for giving their best en route to the final. He said his team would be ready to face any side in the gold medal match.
“Nevertheless, we don’t look down at any team. We’re ready to face [any team] in the final,” Indra said in a statement after Saturday’s semifinal match.
In its semifinals match, Indonesia showed confidence against Myanmar, fielding a lineup of Muhammad Rafli at front, supported by Osvaldo Haay with Egy Maulana Vikri and Sadil Ramdhani as wingers.
In the middle, Indonesia started Evan Dimas and Zulfiandi, with Asnawi Mangkualam, Adi Bagas Nugroho, Andi Setyo Nugroho and Firza Andika placed at the back. Nadeo Arga Winata was the goalkeeper.
In the first half, both keepers kept clean sheets, forcing coach Indra to make some tactical changes, which resulted in two goals from Evan and Eggy in the 57th and 71st minutes respectively.
Myanmar refused to back down, responding with a goal from Mann Aung Kaung in the 79th minute and an equalizer from Win Naing Tun in the 80th minute.
In extra time, Osvaldo scored the go-ahead goal for Indonesia in the 101st minute. Evan scored in the 117th minute, effectively sealing a 4-2 victory for the Garuda side.
Rebounding, instead of getting rattled, after the late equalizer showed character, Indra said.
“They showed that they have the champion mentality. Although [the opponents] broke our net twice, the lads managed to respond positively. Their mental strength became key to their ability to score two more goals,” he said.
Indonesia saw its only loss in the tournament in the group stage on Dec. 1, when it fell to Vietnam 2-1. It was Indonesian Sani who scored first. However, consecutive goals from Vietnam’s Nguyen Thanh Chung and Nguyen Hoang Duc propelled the Golden Dragons to victory.
In its 4-0 semifinal victory over Cambodia on Saturday, Vietnam opened the scoresheet with a goal from Nguyen Tien Linh, followed by a hat trick from Ha Duc Chinh.
Vietnam is odds-on favorite, having gone through the tournament without a single loss and entering the final fresh off of a clean sheet.
A SEA Games gold would mark an important milestone for Vietnam, a side that has only won silver, with second-place finishes in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. At the previous Games, Vietnam failed to advance to the knockouts.
As for Indonesia, a 2019 gold would be its first since 1991. It also won gold in 1987 and 1989. At the 2017 Games, Indonesia won bronze after defeating Myanmar.
Facing a strong side in Vietnam, Indra said it was up to the players to adapt to whatever the final match threw at them.
“In soccer, anything can happen,” he said.
“It is important for each player to deal [with all scenarios] in order to show their winning mentality.
“If our team did not have such a mentality in the first place, I don’t think they would have made it. But they made it.”