It is down to two teams who will vie for the bragging rights to be called ASEAN champions as Indonesia battle Thailand over two legs in the FINALS of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020.
It has been quite a journey for both teams where after 24 matches in the tournament this year, Indonesia and Thailand showed that they are the deserving two finalists.
For Indonesia, their sixth appearance in the final will be their chance to erase the stigma of always being the bridesmaid of the tournament.
They were denied three times by Thailand (in 2000, 2002 and 2016) and once by Singapore (2004) and Malaysia (2010).
In Shin Tae-yong, Indonesia have found a tactician able to instill discipline in a squad full of talented individuals.
They started their campaign in Group B with a 4-2 win over Cambodia and then a 5-1 victory over Laos.
They then held defending champions Vietnam to a scoreless draw before beating nemesis Malaysia 4-1 to win the group.
In the semifinals, Indonesia had to pull out all the stops all the way to extra-time before they were able to beat host Singapore 5-3 on aggregate.
“The extra day’s rest will give us a certain advantage even though we had to play in extra time in our last match. But we will be more prepared for the final,” said Tae-yong.
On the other hand, Thailand head coach Alexandre Polking seemed to have injected a certain level of easiness within the squad that is being powered by the silky skills of Chanathip Songkrasin.
Just like Indonesia, the Thais have shown that they can be adept at attacking as well as defending.
Thailand started their campaign in Group A against Timor Leste with a 2-0 win before beating Myanmar 4-0.
They then edged the Philippines 2-1 before taking the group with a 2-0 victory over Singapore.
In the semi-finals, the Thais underlined their title aspiration with a 2-0 aggregate victory over defending champions Vietnam.
“We are very, very happy to be in the final. It is too bad that Chatchai (Bootprom) is injured. We will try to win the title for him. We will play better football against Indonesia,” added Polking.
Thailand have been winners five times – 1996, 2000, 2002, 2014 and 2016.
Will Thailand win their sixth ASEAN crown? Or will Indonesia take the title for the first time ever?
AFF SUZUKI CUP 2020
FINAL 1, FIRST LEG – National Stadium
29 December 2021
2030: Indonesia vs Thailand
Pictures Courtesy of Sportfive