Indonesia failed to break the runner-up curse at the AFF Cup 2020. What lessons can be learned?


Indonesia had to be content with finishing second in the 2020 AFF Cup after being defeated by Thailand 2-6 on aggregate. It was beaten 0-4 in the first leg and held to a 2-2 tie in the second leg, which took place on Saturday, January 1, 2022.

As a result of this defeat, Indonesia is now the runner-up in the 2020 AFF Cup, having never won the competition. Meanwhile, Thailand won its sixth AFF Cup title, reaffirming its position as the country with the most AFF Cup titles.

Coach Shin Tae-Yong recognized that his team required more experience to win the championship. According to the South Korean coach, the setback in the 2020 AFF Cup final was a great lesson for his young players so that they could continue to progress in the future. 

Shin invited numerous young players to this year's AFF Cup. The average age of the Indonesian squad is younger than that of the three AFF Cup semi-finalists in 2020 that is 23.7 years.

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Although he was understandably disappointed that his players were unable to secure the trophy in the 2020 AFF Cup, he said the experience he earned from this year's AFF Cup is helpful to assist the players in progressing. Despite many of his players making their AFF Cup debuts, the former South Korean national team coach is also pleased with their no-nonsense work ethic.

"As you can see, our squad is quite young, and because it is still very young, experience is something they don't have yet," Shin stated after the game, adding that he was proud to witness his foster children's battling spirit. 

"I can feel our young people's passion throughout the tournament, and I am delighted to see them (the Indonesian National Team) continuing to flourish," he remarked. 

"So we haven't had the experience, but I'm proud of their dedication, and that's extremely wonderful."

Shin has been nominated for the best coach of the 2020 AFF Cup. There are three other contenders for the title: Alexandre "Mano" Polking, Tatsuma Yoshida, and Park Hang-Seo. 

"The most experienced coach in this competition. Leading Indonesia to the final despite having little experience," AFF wrote on Sunday (2/1/2022). "Shin Tae-yong has demonstrated tactical adaptability, both between matches and in the middle of a match."

If Shin remained as a coach, some believe Indonesia could become a new powerful team. Shin also hinted that he has committed to staying with the Indonesian national team until his contract expires in December 2023. "Simply put, I have a contract with the federation (PSSI) that runs through December 31, 2023," he said.

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Room to grow

Shin believes his team can still improve. According to Shin, the defeat can help develop the mentality of the players, who are still relatively young on average, so that Indonesia can become the axis of Southeast Asian football strength.

"We can absolutely move forward based on experiences like these; there are still competitions this year," Shin remarked during a post-match press conference on Sunday (2/1/2022). "We can surely become champion candidates in the next event. Therefore we will definitely prepare hard for the next tournament."

The Indonesian national squad arrived at the 2020 AFF Cup with Garuda Muda's latest ammunition, Asnawi Mangkualam, Pratama Arhan and Elkan Baggott.

Shin said he believes his team has the potential to be a strong contender for a major tournament triumph. The Indonesian national team will compete in a number of events in 2022. Garuda Muda will compete in the 2022 AFF U-23 Cup event, which will take place from February 14 to February 26, 2022.

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Final Facts

If we look back at the AFF's history since its inception in 1996, this is the sixth time that Indonesia has come second in Southeast Asia's greatest football event after the 2000, 2002, 2004, 2010, and 2016 games.

Indonesia was defeated in the final by Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. The team is said to be tough to predict because it virtually always alters the mix of players in each match. This year, the Indonesian national team was defeated only by Malaysia, whose players had an average age of 23.4 years. 

It should also be noted Elkan Baggott, Victor Igbonefo, Rizky Dwi Febrianto, and Rizky Ridho were prohibited from playing due to breaching COVID-19 protocols. PSSI said it was disappointed by the decision but admitted that the players did violate the rules.


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