JAKARTA (Dec 18, 2010) – Philippines have never beaten Indonesia in previous AFF-organised football competitions dating back to 1996. In fact, the Philippines have not beaten Indonesia in other tournaments as well, including the SEA Games. In other words, Philippines will have to rewrite regional football history tomorrow evening at the Gelora Bung Karno if they hope to make the final.
There’s only one problem with that story. Hosts Indonesia themselves are out to create history by winning the AFF Suzuki Cup for the very first time this year. To keep their dreams on track, the Indonesians must first prevail in the two-leg semifinal and knock the Filipinos out tomorrow.
For the record, Indonesia have won all three previous encounters against Philippines in AFF competitions. They won 3-1 (1998), 3-0 (2000) and 13-1 in Jakarta in 2002. The Philippines and Indonesia were in different groups and avoided each other in 2004 and 2006. Then in the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup, the Philippines failed to make it past the qualifying round.
Two years on, the Philippines have produced a strong side that has already stunned defending champions Vietnam and qualified for their first ever semifinals. They lost the first leg by a solitary Christian Gonzalez goal but coach Simon McMenemy is pleased that his team is still in with a fight.
“We lost because of a mistake but while we wanted to chase the game, we held back. We had one more match to go and could not go chasing the goals in the first game, we could have ended up falling further behind. Their strikers could have torn us apart,” McMenemy said.
He added that the thought process for the second semifinal would be the same but the team would not have to go in search of the goals. The English coach said that his team were all fired up for the match and ditched reports that said his team had fitness problems.
“The boys are in good shape and as you saw in previous matches, they fought to the very end. We have no injuries just some stiffness which is normal. We are prepared for Indonesia. Tomorrow’s match will be the biggest of their careers and you can be sure they will go all the way.”
Indonesian assistant coach Wolfgang Pikal said that the game would be difficult as his team had experienced in the first tie. “We are not playing the Philippines team but a European side. They are 10cm taller, 10kg heavier and stronger than us so it will be difficult for our boys.”