VOA (SOLO, CENTRAL JAVA) —
The fanfare of shouts of goals resounded repeatedly among the 16,000 spectators who packed Manahan Stadium, Saturday (9/9) evening. One by one the Indonesian national team players managed to break into the goal of the Chinese Taipei national team in the inaugural match of the Garuda Muda team in the U23 Asian Cup qualifying round match of Group K. The score 9-0 became the acquisition of the Indonesian National Team without a fight during the 90 minutes of the match.
Chairman of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) Erick Thohir witnessed the match firsthand. For Erick, the first victory for the Indonesian national team in the Asian Cup match was a gift to coincide with the celebration of Sports Day, September 9. Erick said he was satisfied with the performance of the Garuda Muda team. Erick reminded the U23 Indonesian National Team that there are still many opponents from other national teams in the Asian Cup which cannot be underestimated.
“(Date) 9 September 1948 Solo made history as the location for PON 1. (Date) 9 September is also Sports Day. Coincidentally the national team match at AFC U23 also recorded 9-0 against the Chinese Taipei National Team. A beautiful gift for Indonesia. Don’t I’m lulled there’s still a match with the Turkmenistan national team next week. You can’t take it lightly. The team won 4-0 against Chinese Taipei, “said Erick after watching the Indonesian national team vs Chinese Taipei national team in the AFC U23 Cup at Manahan Stadium, Solo.
PSSI chairman Erick Thohir watched the inaugural match for the U23 Indonesian National Team in Group K of the AFC U23 Cup at Manahan Stadium, Solo, Saturday (9/9) evening. (Photo: VOA/Yudha Satriawan)
Indonesia must struggle with the national teams of two other countries, namely Chinese Taipei and Turkmenistan in Group K to get a ticket to advance to the group champion level.
The 2024 U-23 Asian Cup qualification consists of 11 groups. A total of 10 Groups from A to J contain four teams each. Only Group K contains three teams.
The draw results for the 2024 U-23 Asian Cup Qualification are:
Group A: Jordan, Syria, Oman, Brunei Darussalam
Group B: South Korea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar
Group C: Vietnam, Singapore, Yemen, Guam
Group D: Japan, Bahrain, Palestine, Pakistan
Grup E: Uzbekistan, Iran, Hong Kong, Afghanistan
Group F: Iraq, Kuwait, Timor Leste, Macau
Group G: United Arab Emirates, India, Maldives, China
Group H: Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Philippines
Group I: Australia, Tajikistan, Laos, North Korea
Group J: Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Lebanon, Mongolia
Group K: Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Taiwan
The atmosphere of the Manahan Stadium after it was inaugurated by President Joko Widodo, Saturday, February 15 2020. (Photo: Yudha Satriawan)
The National Team is Strengthened by European and East Asian Club Diaspora Players
Apart from domestic, the Indonesian U23 national team squad is also strengthened by five diaspora players who compete in foreign clubs. They include Elkan Baggot, Rafael Struck, Irvan Jenner, Pratama Arhan, and Marselino Ferdinand. Elkan joined the Ipswich Town academy dropout and resonated at the English Club Gillingham FC. Rafael at Club Ado Den Haag Netherlands, and Irvan Club Utrecht Netherlands U-21. Pratama Arhan at Club Tokyo Verdy Japan and Marselino Ferdinan Club KMZK Deinze Belgium.
Elkan Baggott is quite optimistic that the Indonesian national team will win a ticket to the 2024 U-23 Asian Cup.
Indonesian U23 national team diaspora player, Elkan Baggot, when met on the sidelines of training ahead of the Group K AFC Cup match in Solo, Thursday (7/9). (Photo: VOA/Yudha Satriawan)
“Yes, we have to face the two matches against China Taipei and Turkmenistan. Obviously these two matches are the golden ticket to qualify for the Asian Cup. For us, this is an opportunity to compete on the Asian stage. We haven’t had too many chances or haven’t participated in competitions This was previously in the Asian Cup finals. So this match for us and for their country against the Indonesian U-23 national team is very important,” said Elkan, Thursday (7/9).
Elkan further revealed that all the players adapted to the team. Cooperation between players is an important key, added Elkan.
In the first match against the Chinese Taipei National Team, Elkan, Pratama Arhan, and Rafael contributed 1 goal each while Marselino scored 2 goals.
Later, the 11 group winners plus the four best runners-up will qualify for the Asian Cup finals which will take place in Qatar from 15 April to 3 May 2024.
Ticket to the Olympics
Erick Thohir explained the players who strengthen the Garuda Muda squad are future stars. Apart from having the potential to appear at the U23 Asian Cup, emphasized Erick, they are also likely to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“Earlier I went into the locker room. I told coach Shin Tae-yong, and of course I hope that we really focus on this team for our future. Because, we hope of course that if September 12 plays well, we can enter the World Cup. Asia U-23 2024 in Qatar April 2024. That will also be the qualification round for the 2024 Olympics,” said Erick. (ys/em)