Indonesia are already out from the race of 2018 AFF semi-final spot. A draw between Thailand and the Philippines, as well as a second win for Singapore, confirmed the bitter truth that they must face. However, for The Azkals, the match tonight in Jakarta is crucial as they look to secure progression from Group B. This game also serves as a revenge match, as the Younghusband brothers still have a bad memories of the Gelora Bung Karno stadium, which they hope to erase in today’s match.
Strengths – Already Shows Their Best Performance
Indonesia may have lost to Thailand in Bangkok, but they fighting were for 90 minutes and shown an established first eleven in their last two last games. The Combination of senior and young players looks promising, and they can be proud of how they look the lead against the defending champions.
Weaknesses – Lack of Confidence
Even playing in Gelora Bung Karno, everybody can say Bima Sakti’s team as a whole does not possess a good mentality, and easily falter under pressure. Fans have already planned a boycott of this last game, popularized with a hashtag #KosongkanGBK, which translates to empty the GBK (Gelora Bung Karno Stadium). This may have a negative effect on the The Garuda’s performance.
Player to Watch – Riko Simanjuntak
On his AFF cup debut, Riko showed his ability to become an important part of Indonesia’s attack. With his pace and acceleration he was able to trouble the opponent’s back line. He also has good passing and vision, which helped The Garuda a lot when they tried to build attacks from both sides.
Strengths – Coach’s Capability
It’s about Sven-Goran Eriksson against Bima Sakti, and we already know who will win the strategy game. With all of his experience, Sven’s presence brings confidence and positives vibes on the team, as they dream of qualifying for their first AFF Cup final. Even without Cardiff’s superstar, Neil Etheridge, Eriksson still have Bangkok United’s Michael Falkesgaard between the sticks. The Azkals also have a host of players who currently ply their trade in Europe, making them a more daunting prospect.
Weaknesses – The Starting Eleven Always Changing
Sven-Goran Eriksson has played a different starting eleven in each of this last three games. This issue of rotation is most pronounced when it comes to the defensive line, as only Carli de Murga has played in all three games as the Swedish mastermind plans to test another seven players one-by-one in front of Neil Etheridge or Michael Falkesgaard. The Azkals defensive line is far from solid, even Timor-Leste as the weakest team in Group B could score two goals against them.
Player to Watch – John-Patrick Strauss
22-year-old John-Patrick Strauss has become a dynamic midfielder for The Azkals. He is another player who has featured in all of Philippines games at this tournament so far, which is impressive given that this is his debut competition. He played confidently, even when having duels with experienced opponents such as Thailand’s Sanrawat Dechmitr or Singapore’s Gabriel Quak.
Indonesia have had good stories when facing Philippines in the past, but tonight’s match will be different. Forget the fact that Indonesia had win 13-1 over The Azkals in Jakarta 16 years ago. The last time these two sides met was in the group stages of the 2014 tournament, and the Azkals grabbed a big win 4-0 in Hanoi.
Currently, it is likely that the Philippines can repeat their positive result because their mentality and greater individual quality. Meanwhile, Indonesia must play with a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude and enjoy their last game in 2018.