AFF Cup first leg:
Malaysia 3-0 Indonesia (Kuala Lumpur)
I'd just like to thank my good friend Alfred Riedl for alleviating any concern I had about Wednesday's second leg. Now I can go to Singapore in peace, knowing the result is all but secure and I will be far, far away from any shenanigans that take place. Considering the build-up, I imagine there will be a fair few angry fans at Gelora Bung Karno.
The Reader's Digest breakdown from tonight — this was Indonesia back to its worst. The confident, collected attacking unit from earlier in the tournament was nowhere to be found. Instead, the Merah Putih went back to their bad, old ways: getting stroppy when things went bad, running out of ideas, playing kick-and-chase and collapsing under the slightest bit of pressure. Other than Bambang Pamungkas not starting, it was the Benny Dollo era all over again.
Here is Indonesia's record so far under Riedl (hat tip to Jakarta Casual): 1-7 vs. Uruguay (Jakarta), 3-0 vs. Maldives (Bandung), 6-0 vs. East Timor (Palembang), 2-0 vs. Taiwan (Palembang), 5-1 vs. Malaysia (Jakarta, AFF Cup Group A), 6-0 vs. Laos (Jakarta, AFF Cup Group A), 2-1 vs. Thailand (Jakarta, AFF Cup Group A), 1-0 vs. Philippines (Jakarta, AFF Cup semifinals), 1-0 vs. Philippines (Jakarta, AFF Cup semifinals). Notice a pattern? Friendly crowds, compliant opponents (with one notable exception) and a certain puckering sound once the pressure increased.
The good news is that Indonesia can spend the whole of the second leg attacking, which is what it does best. The bad news is that just one away goal by Malaysia and the host suddenly has to score five. The ugly? That will likely come out in the post-mortem, when the anti-Riedl faction in the Indonesian FA (and it does exist) will furrow its collective brow and speak solemnly about expectations and accountability — two subjects that may as well be Swahili to the empty suits at the PSSI. Stopping the rot in Indonesian football is a long-term project, but the PSSI will wallow in the mediocrity it so richly deserves if it sacks Riedl for daring to challenge the cabal that runs the sport in this country.