Indonesia confident of ousting Singapore
Coach Aji confident of pipping Singapore to semi-final spot
They just had over 36 hours to recover after their last match on Tuesday, but Indonesia are not going to let fatigue get in their way of claiming a win over hosts Singapore in their Group A football match at Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.
On the sidelines of Indonesia's training session at ITE College Central yesterday, a confident head coach Aji Santoso said: "We need only a draw, but I don't want to think about a draw. I want a win against Singapore.
"I know Singapore will try very hard because they need a win, so they'll put pressure on us."
The Indonesians are in a race against time to regain their fitness, after their 2-0 win over the Philippines on Tuesday.
On the other hand, the Young Lions have had plenty of time to recover after their crucial 3-1 win over Cambodia on Monday.
Undaunted, Aji believes his young charges are up for the task, saying: "Singapore have an advantage because they had more than two days to recover, but we have only 36 hours of rest.
"They will try to take advantage of that but, for me, it's not a problem."
The Indonesian coach has already done his homework on Aide Iskandar's boys, telling his players to man-mark Singapore's attackers Sahil Suhaimi and Faris Ramli, while exposing the hole left by the suspended Shakir Hamzah at the left-back position.
"I already told my players to keep an eye on their No. 7 (Sahil) and No. 10 (Faris), because they are quality players and I told them to take advantage from the fact that their left back is suspended."
Indonesia, who last won the football gold medal in 1991, started their campaign on the wrong foot after losing 4-2 to Myanmar, but they have since bounced back by beating Cambodia and the Philippines.
Santoso admitted that his team were distracted by the suspension of the Indonesian Football Association by Fifa, and that resulted in the defeat by Myanmar in their opening game.
He said: "The players weren't at their best in the first game, because they were affected by what's happening in Indonesia.
"But my assistant coaches and I have been telling them to focus on the games."
Aji will be keeping his fingers crossed that Evan Dimas, arguably their best player in the tournament next to Hadi Muchlis, will be fit to face Singapore.
Dimas has already hit the back of the net thrice, the last two coming against the Philippines on Tuesday.
The midfielder was substituted just after the hour mark in that match, but Santoso is keeping mum about his star's condition.
"Against the Philippines, Dimas played well, so I want him to do even better against Singapore," said the coach.
After their resurgence, Santoso believes that his young side can take their rightful place in the semi-finals.
"I'm confident we can win the final qualifying match against Singapore," he said. "Indonesia, Myanmar and Singapore are all on the same level, but I believe my team can go into the semi-finals."