Indonesian players in an aerial duel with Malaysia during an AFC U-23 Championship pre-qualifier on Wednesday (19/07). (Photo courtesy of Twitter/Asian Football Confederation)

Indonesia Hammered by Malaysia in AFC U-23 Pre-Qualifier


JULY 21, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesia's under-23 national team was hammered 0-3 by Malaysia in the opening group match of the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship pre-qualifiers at Supachalasai National Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday (19/07).

"Malaysia crushed us mentally in the first 20 minutes," Indonesian coach Luis Milla said in a statement after the game.

"We played better in the second half, but we were down 0-3 already," he added.

Malaysia scored their first goal after just five minutes with Syafiq Ahmad tapping in a long pass from Adam Nor Azlin.

They doubled their lead in the 19th minute through Jafri Firdaus before Thanabalan Nadarajah scored their third goal in the 30th minute.

Indonesia were much better in the second half after playmaker Evan Dimas and Hansamu Pranata came on as substitutes. They had a total of 11 shots at goal, though only three were on target.

The Malaysians, coached by Ong Kim Swee, only had three chances at goal all match but converted each one.

Indonesia's midfielder Asnawi Bahar was red-carded by the referee in the 69th minute after committing a harsh tackle.

With a 79 percent passing accuracy — better than Malaysia's 77 percent — and ball possession of 55 percent, Indonesia's problems were mainly in front of goals, with the attacking trio Septian David Maulana, Marinus Wanewar and Febri Hariyadi proving to be toothless.

Septian wasted a clear chance in injury time in the second half, as his weak header was easily saved by Malaysian goalie Ifwat Akmal. Febri also wasted two chances in the second half, mostly caused by his bad decision-making.

Indonesia's Spanish coach Milla admitted playmaker Evan should have been in his starting line-up, since he bossed the game after coming on as a sub.

"I didn't play Evan and Hansamu from the start due to our [long-term] strategy, they're important players for us," Milla said. "Our gameplay was much better after he came in but it was too late, we were already behind by three goals," he added.

"I can promise you Evan and Hansamu will play in the next game [versus Mongolia on Friday, July 21]," the 51-year-old said.