Indonesia failed to achieve their lofty semi-final target in AFC Under-16 Championships in Malaysia, as The Garuda were defeated 2-3 by Australia yesterday evening.
A victory would have meant that the side reached the final four in the tournament, and thus qualifying for the 2019 U17 World Cup in Peru, an achievement which would be a hallmark of football development in the nation.
Indonesia managed to take the lead at 16th minute, when Sutan Zico’s well placed-shot managed to find the net and stun the Socceroos. The scoreline remained unchanged until half-time, giving Indonesian fans genuine hope that this young team could build on their recent AFF U16 Championship victory by making an appearance on the world stage.
However, the side’s defence was ruthlessly exposed in the second half. Their carelessness and poor coordination led Australia to score three goals. The first come from indirect free-kick at 50th minute, opening the floodgates to strike again in the 65th and 74th to establish a dominant lead over the South-East Asian outfit.
Rendy Juliansyah gave Indonesia hope with his goal at 87th minute, but it turned out to be a mere consolation as the AFF U16 Champions did not have enough time to change the result, and Indonesia crashed out of the tournament with a 3-2 defeat.
Mochammad Supriadi was arguably Indonesia’s player yesterday. His pace and agility posed a threat to Australia on both flanks. He operated on the right side in the first half, but moved over to the left after the break.
Ultimately, while the side failed to make the final step in a manner that will leave them bitterly disappointed, Indonesia can take heart in their run to the semi-finals, which made them the last-remaining South-East Asian side in the competition. Their regional dominance at this age group could be a sign of even better things to come in the future.