Saturday, October 22, 2011


When the Southeast Asian Games begin on November 11, the football competition will already be well underway. That actually starts on the 3rd with Vietnam and the Philippines. Indonesia hasn't won a gold medal at the SEA Games since hosting it in 1991, and going by the draw, that streak looks likely to continue.

Group A: Indonesia (host), Malaysia (defending champion), Thailand (11-time winner), Singapore (back-to-back bronze medals), Cambodia
Group B: Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, East Timor, Burma, the Philippines

It's worth noting in that report that the Indonesian FA (PSSI) secretary general insisted the draw was "fair and square." Why would he feel the need to say that, especially as the PSSI itself did the draw?

If you're the supremely cynical type, you might just think that the PSSI rigged Indonesia's draw to be as difficult as possible, thus freeing up the country's young stars to return to the now-on-hiatus Indonesian Premier League. The IPL played all of one match before going on break and is still a hot mess, and as I've detailed on this here blog, the PSSI is not above a bit of shenanigans.

Oh, and did I mention that the Indonesian Under-23 team's SEA Games match against Thailand (at Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta) is on Nov. 15, the same day as the senior national team's 2014 World Cup qualifier against Iran? The Asian Football Confederation has approved only three Indonesian stadiums for its matches -- GBK (Jakarta), Jakabaring (Palembang, also being used for the SEA Games) and Mandala (Jayapura, Papua, which is on the other side of the country). The PSSI, in its infinite wisdom, has asked to use one of two non-approved stadiums -- Si Jalak Harupat (Bandung) or Manahan (Solo).

Given all the special dispensation and extra patience the PSSI is asking of the AFC, I wonder how quickly the folks in Kuala Lumpur will tire of the new Indonesian leadership and start wishing for the halcyon days under good ol' Nurdin Halid.

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