Not for the first time, Indonesia went into an international tournament with high hopes and again not for the first time it fell short.
After less than stellar performances in the World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, this time Merah Putih failed to put on a show in the Asean Football Federation Championships with disappointing performances against the likes of Vietnam and the Philippines.
While a modicum of pride was salvaged in the last game against Laos when it won 5-1 it was a pyrrhic victory at best against one of the weakest sides in the region.
As is often the case it is the coach who will pay the price and Alfred Riedl has gone out all guns blazing, implicitly blaming the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) by claiming that it is the team manager who holds all the cards in the nation’s football.
As the dust settles on Riedl’s second spell with Merah Putih, thoughts will turn to his successor in perhaps one of the hottest hot seats in international football.
The Austrian has suggested his assistants Wolfgang Pikal and Widodo Cahyono Putro are more than capable of filling his shoes and in the absence of any other leading candidates they could well be favorites.
Rahmad Darmawan, the most successful local coach domestically, has just taken over at Persija Jakarta for a third spell while Jacksen F. Tiago, who has led Persipura Jayapura to domestic titles, has opted to try his luck overseas with Malaysia’s Penang.
Two names that are in the frame are Dejan Antonic and Indra Sjafri.
Antonic impressed many with the work he did at unfancied Pelita Bandung Raya last season leading it into the playoffs while Indra earned many plaudits for the work he did with guiding the Under-19s to the AFC Championships in Myanmar in October.
The position has certainly proved to be a poisoned chalice in recent seasons. Since Riedl was dismissed after his first spell into 2011, Wim Rijsbergen, Aji Santoso, Nil Maizar, Rahmad and Tiago have all had stints before the Austrian coach was rehired with the task of winning the AFF Championship.
The appointment of a new technical director may speed up the process of a new appointment. Then again, it may not.
Whoever takes over the team will have some tough decisions to make. The draw for the World Cup 2018 won’t be made till halfway through next year so there will be little in the way of competitive football for a new coach to get his teeth into. Instead, perhaps, he may turn to a squad that saw eight players aged over 30 travel to Hanoi for the AFF Championships; compare that with the favorite Thailand who had just one but just look at the football it was playing.
While the likes of Zamrun Malik, Ramdhani Lestalahu and Evan Dimas did their international prospects no harm at all, other players may well be looking over their shoulders. Especially the strikers like Cristian Gonzales and Sergio van Dijk.
While they have never let their country down, there may well be a desire for youth with players such as Titus Bonai, Patrich Wanggai and Ferdinand Sinaga champing at the bit after being surprisingly left out of the squad that traveled to Vietnam.
Indonesia always stands on the verge of something but to actually achieve something it needs a consistency which all too often is lacking in the corridors of power.
It would be nice to see a new coach come in and given time to build a new squad around a younger core of players, but no one is actually holding their breath.