Two quick-fire goals from the talismanic Evan Dimas Darmono gave Indonesia a well-deserved 2-0 win over the Philippines in their penultimate Group A game at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Needing to win the full points to set up a mouth-watering clash against hosts Singapore to decide the second team from the group to advance to the next round, Evan nailed the opener just four minutes into the game before doubling the advantage ten minutes later.
“Yes we lost shape in the second half but it is not because of any injuries,” said Indonesian assistant coach Mustaqim.
“We rested several players from the start of the game and after taking the two goals, we made several changes to make sure that the players are well rested for the match against Singapore
“Tonight we just needed the three points and in spite of everything, the players got the job done. That was important. And now we will prepare to take on Singapore.”
While some of the spectators were adjusting into their seats, Evan delivered the first strike of the night where after picking up the pass from deep, he flicked the ball past his marker before unleashing a shot past Philippines keeper Florencio Badelic.
The Philippines were certainly rattled by the goal and as they were still looking for their footing, it was Evans again in the 14th minute when he made good on a run from Paulo Sitanggang down the left to beat Badelic for the second time on the night.
And watching from the stands is none other than Singapore coach Aide Iskandar as he frantically took down notes as to just which player his team need to clamp down on Thursday.
The Philipines tried hard to get into the game but striker Gerardo Valmayor seemed unable to make any of the chances that came his way count. His first was a curling attempt that missed the top end of the Indonesian goal while some time later, he totally muffed a one-on-one situation.
Indonesia then made several changes into the second half as the Philippines continued to struggle. And as the clock trickled down, the inevitable was obvious as Indonesia made sure of the points with Singapore standing in their way for a place in the semi-finals.
“We did not play our usual line-up today and moved the players around to confuse the Singapore coaches who should be watching from the stands,” quipped Mustaqim.
In the meantime at the Bishan Stadium, Laos edged Timor Leste 3-2 in a match which had little impact to the final standings.
The scorers for Laos were Sipasong Bounthavy (27th minute), Khochalern Phoutthasay (47th) and Sihavong Khonesavanh (67th) while Timor replied through Alves Frangcyatma (22nd) and Henrique Martins (90th).
Timor Leste 2 Laos 3
Indonesia 2 Philippines 0
GROUP A CURRENT STANDINGS