By Les Tan/Red Sports
Video copyright of World Sport Group
Jakarta, Wednesday, December 29, 2010 — Malaysia wrapped up the ASEAN Football Championship (AFF Suzuki Cup) when they won 4-2 on aggregate despite going down 1-2 in Jakarta to Indonesia.
The Malaysians, holding a commanding 3-0 lead from the first leg, were fortunate to escape an early scare when Indonesian captain Firman Utina missed a 15th-minute penalty.
A handball was spotted by Australian referee Peter Green but Firman’s weak shot was saved by Malaysian keeper Khairul.
With Cristian Gonzales and Irfam Bachdim missing chances for the home side, the Malaysians were sitting pretty with the score 0-0 at half-time.
The Malaysian tactic of pouncing on the counter attack finally paid off in the 54th minute when the Indonesians gave away possession inside their own half.
A pass by Ashari Samsuddin found tournament top-scorer Safee Sali. Safee outran the defence and hit the top left corner for his championship-leading fifth goal.
Two goals by Nasuha in the 72nd minute and Ridwan in the 88th minute were not enough for Indonesia to overhaul the Malaysians on goal difference and stop them from winning their first ASEAN football championship.
“”We were a bit fortunate with the penalty save but at the end of the first half I felt that we were in a good position and so we continued to play the way we had been playing while trying to get a goal on the counter attack,” said Malaysian head coach K. Rajagobal on the affsuzukicup.com website.
“Even if the penalty had gone in, I would not have done things very differently. I would have told the players to be more alert and to continue to try to get a goal,” added Rajagobal.
Indonesia head coach Alfred Riedl also weighed in on the penalty miss.
“Even if we had scored a penalty, a lot of things still could have happened so we will never know how big a difference it might have made,” said the Austrian. “But I’m probably thinking the same as all of you (that it might have been a big difference to the final outcome).”
Riedl also felt the misses in the first half cost his team the chance of coming back.
“I think we really lost the final in the first leg in Kuala Lumpur after we allowed three goals in a terrible 12 minutes. Today, I thought that we were really unlucky because we played our best football of the tournament in the first half but we could not score a goal,” said Riedl.
“After we went a goal behind, we showed a lot of determination and we fought very hard to come back and we deserved to win the game. We could really have scored five, six or seven goals tonight but we missed too many chances in the first half,” added Riedl.