The prodigal Evan Dimas Darmono blasted Indonesia into the semi-finals of the men’s football event following their close 1-0 win over hosts Singapore tonight at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Needing just a draw to make the cut into the next round, Indonesia played a patient game before Evan fired the winner just two minutes into the second half.
With the win, Indonesia emerged as the runners-up from Group A where they will join Myanmar in the final four.
“It was a very difficult match,” said Aji Santoso after the match.
“We just needed a draw but to win it was great. Now we are in the semi-finals and we could not be happier. Now we have to forget the game tonight and focus on Thailand.
“We have less than 24 hours before the semi-final game against Thailand and having the right recovery will be key.”
In spite of the drizzle at the start, the game went off well with Indonesia battling hard against a determined Singapore side who needs a draw to book a place in the next round.
But that expectation was always going to be a problem. And in front of their home crowd, the players just can’t seem to put things together.
In their frustration, several yellow cards were flashed as Korean referee Kim Heegon handed out a total of 10 through the match that was stopped several times.
Indonesia picked up four while the hosts received six.
The Indonesians were just content to pass the ball around and looking for holes in the Singapore backline. Oft-times Ahmad Nurfiandani and also Muchlis Syaifulooh would find a break but Singapore custodian Muhammad Syazwan Buhari was apt as the last line of defence.
However, just two minutes after the restart Evan turned the game on its head where after some excellent work from the left off Adam Setyano, the Persebaya striker blasted the ball in.
That put even enormous pressure on Singapore and even though they brought in Faris Ramli and also Irfan Fandi, they were just not able to break through the steady Indonesian defence.
In the 62nd minute, Singapore were put in an even worst situation when Ho Wai Loon was ejected from the game for picking up his second yellow card of the game.
“Things got even harder after when we lost a player,” quipped Singapore coach Aide Iskandar.
“The boys tried their best but we just could not perform to the level that was expected.”
In the meantime at the Bishan Stadium, Malaysia came back from a goal down to beat Laos 3-1 in a game which had no effect to the final standings in Group B.
Soukchinda Natphasouk gave Laos the lead after 22 minutes before Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad replied with the equalizer for Malaysia with three minutes left of the first half.
Saiful Ridzuwan Selamat then gave Malaysia the lead for the first time in the match in the 71st minute as Syahrul Azwari then rounded things off nine minutes to the end.
Laos 1 Malaysia 3
Singapore 0 Indonesia 1
GROUP A FINAL STANDINGS
GROUP B FINAL STANDINGS
* Teams in bold qualify for semi-finals