SEA Games: Indonesia relaxed and ready to upset S'pore

One by one, they had a go.

Lining up the footballs on the edge of the penalty area, the Indonesia Under-23 players thumped them towards goal as two of the backroom staff tried to thwart their efforts.

It was 40 minutes into their final training session at ITE College Central yesterday evening and the Indonesians were having a ball.


Coach Aji Santoso stood from a distance and laughed at his players' antics. The pressure was off and understandably so.

Armed with a superior goal difference, the Indonesians require only a draw in their final group match tonight against Singapore at Jalan Besar Stadium to advance to the SEA Games semi-finals.

"Singapore will play very hard because they need to win. The pressure is on them, not us," said a confident Aji.

The 45-year-old has prepared his side tactically to take advantage on the counter with the home side expected to get at the Indonesians in search of the win.

He said: "I have my game plan and the players know it.

"We expect Singapore to attack from the first whistle. We know what we have to do.

"Singapore are a strong team (but) I am not thinking of a draw. I want to win against Singapore."

Vice-captain Evan Dimas echoed his coach's assessments.

"Singapore are going to fight from the first minute. Indonesia need to play well but (there is) nothing to be scared about," said the midfielder, who already has three goals at the Games.

Apart from securing a place in the semi-finals and the chance to play at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium, the Garuda Muda stand to be rewarded if they qualify from Group A.

Team manager Gede Widiade said the squad will get an undisclosed cash booty if they eliminate the Young Lions.

While motivation is high, Aji said he has also told his players to be wary of the Young Lions' threat.

"We have to be careful of players like No. 10 (winger Faris Ramli) and No. 7 (striker Sahil Suhaimi) because they have a lot of quality," revealed the coach.

The absence of left-back Shakir Hamzah through suspension - he will be replaced by rookie Ho Wai Loon - was also music to Aji's ears.

He said: "I have a little bit of advantage because the left-back (Shakir) is a good player and he cannot play so I want my side to take advantage of this."

Silver medallists at the last Games in Myanmar, Indonesia are primed to make the last four yet again, preferably if they can thump the ball into the Young Lions' net the way they did in training last night.

This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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