JAKARTA - Indonesia are ranked 127th in
the world and Philippines 23 places below them but that did not
stop success-hungry locals from turning Thursday's ASEAN Cup
clash into a frenzied sell-out with an atmosphere worthy of a
One man sold all his chickens to travel to the game while
thousands were denied tickets when they went on sale for the
game at Jakarta's 70,000-capacity national stadium.
Thursday's match, which Indonesia won 1-0, was a semi-final
first leg in the ASEAN Cup, a two-yearly tournament for the
national teams of South-East Asia which attracts little interest
outside the region.
Controversial Uruguay-born striker Cristian Gonzales, who
has been involved in a series of spats since moving to Indonesia
seven years ago and is nicknamed "Loco" (the Crazy One), headed
the only goal.
Tens of thousands of thrilled Indonesians turned the inside
and outside of Jakarta's main stadium crimson, their national
team's colour, as a football-mad nation starved of international
success exhausted the ticket supply.
Gus Jumali, with his bald head and belly painted red, sold
his chickens to be able to afford the trip from Pasuruan in Java
island to see the match, local website VIVAnews reported.
Organisers put up giant screens outside to cater for those
who could not get tickets and the crowd blew trumpets and sang
the country's "Garuda" football chant.
Coached by Austrian Alfred Riedl, Indonesia's run has
revived hopes for many Indonesians constantly disappointed by
"This time Indonesia must win, we haven't had a victory in a
long time. I mean come on, we have more people (than the
Philippines). What's so hard in finding 11 good players?" an
Indonesian man queuing outside the stadium told local Metro TV
before the game.
A Facebook account for the team has gathered almost 300,000
fans, and many travelled to the match by air or sea from an
archipelago of 17,000 islands.
Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country with
around 240 million people but has played only once at the World
Cup, in 1938.
The country entered the race to host the 2022 World Cup but
pulled out due to lack of government support.
The team's struggles in the past decade have been blamed on
bad management, poor funding and a lack of depth of quality
players, with one fan so frustated in a match in January that he
ran onto the pitch to try to score a goal for the team.
In October, they lost 7-1 at home to World Cup
semi-finalists Uruguay in a friendly.
Despite being by far the biggest country in the region,
Indonesia has never won the ASEAN Cup, with the titles being
shared between Thailand and Singapore (three each) and Vietnam
(one) since it was started in 1996.
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