Southeast Asia

Indonesia Squeeze Past Cambodia Despite Soksela Heroics

Indonesia kicked-off their 2022 AFF Championship campaign with a win on Friday, seeing off Cambodia 2-1 in their Group A opener at the Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta. The Timnas Garuda should’ve won by more, though, but they found themselves going up against a Keo Soksela in some form between the Cambodian sticks.

Spurred on by thousands of their passionate supporters at the Gelora Bung Karno – the first competitive football match in Indonesia to have a live audience since the Kanjuruhan Tragedy back in October – Indonesia went flying out of the blocks and took the lead after just seven minutes.

Egy Maulana Vikri managed to latch onto an excellent Pratama Arhan cross before tapping home the opening goal past Soksela, much to the delight of the Indonesia supporters flocking the stands.

The Timnas Garuda‘s lead only lasted for eight minutes, however, after Sareth Krya fired home past Nadeo Argawinata in the Indonesia goal for Cambodia’s equalizer.

Despite this setback Indonesia managed to reclaim their lead in the 35th minute, thanks to some excellent teamwork between Witan Sulaeman and Marselino Ferdinan leading to the former to blast home past Soksela.

Indonesia then bombarded the Cambodian defense as they seek to cushion their lead, however Soksela managed to keep his calm and weathered his defense through the storm, preventing the Angkor Warriors from conceding even more. The fact that a number of Indonesian players were squandering great chances also contributed to the scoreline remaining unchanged all the way into full-time.

For his heroics, Visakha FC goalkeeper Soksela was subsequently awarded the Man of the Match award despite his team losing the game.

At the opposite end of the pitch, a resolute display from the Indonesian defense marshalled by former Swansea City player Jordi Amat meant that Cambodia were unable to get themselves the all-important equalizer.

A disappointed Shin Tae-yong can be seen admonishing his players after full-time, clearly not pleased with them being unable to take their chances when it count. Indonesia may have won the battle, but if they couldn’t make good use of their opportunities, they might find their profligacy costing them victory.

Friday’s other Group A match saw the Philippines hammering Brunei Darussalam 5-1 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Jens Rasmussen scored twice for the Azkals while Kenshiro Daniels, Sandro Reyes, and Jesus Melliza each scored once, as the Philippines ran rampant over basement dwellers Brunei, who could only reply with a single consolation goal from Razimie Ramlli – the minnows’ first AFF goal since 1996.

Interestingly enough that goal also came against the Philippines – with Brunei winning the tie 1-0 thanks to a single Irwan Mohammad goal at the National Stadium in Singapore. And while history may have seemingly repeated itself again on Friday, in the end the 26 years that had gone by saw the Philippines grew from strength to strength, meaning that they were no longer the ASEAN minnows they were back then.