Indonesia insisted the country’s ban by world body FIFA had given them a lift on Friday as they eye a spot in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games final.
Assistant coach Muhamad Al Hadad said the suspension had given his under-23s “exceptional strength” after they won three in a row to set up a semi-final with Thailand.
Indonesia beat SEA Games hosts Singapore 1-0 in front of their home fans late on Thursday to secure their match-up with the defending champions on Saturday.
“From the managers, coaches, officials to the players, we have a determination to lift the Indonesian people who are now in a difficult period after receiving the suspension from FIFA,” Al Hadad told reporters in Singapore.
“That is the determination that the Indonesian team has and I am certain that this will become an exceptional strength for us,” he added.
Indonesia were suspended by FIFA over political interference after the government tried to oust the country’s football association, following years of turmoil.
They are now excluded from FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) competitions including the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, which started on Thursday.
But Indonesia were allowed to take part in the SEA Games, and they now hope to make the most of their opportunity to shine on the international stage.
“The Indonesian public are now placing their hopes on this team to be able to spring a surprise to lift the Indonesian people and we are certain that tomorrow we will make a surprise,” Al Hadad said.
He added: “What is clear is that the motivation is very high because Thailand is just like us, Thailand is not Arsenal, they are not a European team, they are the same as us.
“Our hope is that the suspension can increase the motivation to higher levels and I hope tomorrow we can play the best game for our country,” Al Hadad said.
In Saturday’s other semi-final at the National Stadium in Singapore, undefeated Myanmar will take on Vietnam. – Agence France-Presse