AFC U23 Championships

Ernando’s Heroics Secure Vital Win for Indonesia U-23

Indonesia U-23 goalkeeper Ernando Ari put out a Man of the Match-worthy performance on Thursday as the Garuda Muda squeezed out a vital 1-0 win over favorites Australia U-23 in their second 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup match at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium.

Ernando, who plies his trade at Persebaya Surabaya, made a superb save to deny Mohamed Toure’s 25th minute penalty, before pulling off a series of shot stoppers to deny Australia their way back into the match following Komang Teguh’s winner at the stroke of half-time.

The win meant that Indonesia’s chances of advancing into the quarterfinal remain well and truly open despite controversially losing their opening match 2-0 to tournament hosts Qatar, while Tony Vidmar’s Olyroos will have to beat Qatar in their final match to stand any chances of qualifying out of their group.

In front of an enthusiastic crowd of Indonesian supporters, Shin Tae-yong’s men showed early promise, with Jeam Kelly Stroyer’s shot narrowly missing the target after a precise pass from Rafael Struick set him up perfectly for a clear shot on goal.

Shortly after, Toure’s powerful strike sailed over the crossbar as Australia launched into an exciting start to the match. Marselino Ferdinan’s direct runs caused trouble for the Australian defense, with Struick’s attempt from the edge of the box narrowly missing the target, heightening Indonesia’s offensive momentum.

Despite Indonesia’s attacking fervor, they faced a potential setback when Borneo FC Samarinda defender Komang conceded a penalty midway through the half, prompting a review by referee Majed Al Shamrani. Adelaide United academy graduate Toure stepped up to take the penalty but was thwarted by Ernando’s diving save to his left. Toure’s subsequent header hit the crossbar, before the ball was frantically cleared away by the Indonesian defense.

Both Marselino and Toure continued to test the opposing defenses, with near misses at both ends of the field keeping the momentum alive. However, in the final minute of the first half, Indonesia seized the lead. Witan Sulaeman’s corner found Stroyer, whose header reached Nathan Tjoe-A-On on the edge of the box. His mishit shot was inadvertently turned into the net by Komang from close range, effectively turning Komang from Indonesia’s near-villain to the Garuda Muda‘s savior.

Ernando denied Toure once again early in the second half with a superb save, while Jacob Italiano’s effort was deflected wide for a corner, highlighting Australia’s mounting pressure.

Despite several attempts, including Toure’s shot over the bar from outside the box with 15 minutes remaining, and the introduction of Australia’s star man Garang Kuol, in a late push for a breakthrough, the Indonesians managed to hold on for a vital and famous win.