Garudas not in Bangkok for a holiday but War Elephants eager to make amends


Garudas not in Bangkok for a holiday but War Elephants eager to make amends


Alfred Riedl knows his Indonesia team will have a fight on their hands when they take on tournament favourites Thailand at a packed Rajamangala Stadium on Saturday night as the two teams contest their AFF Suzuki Cup Final second leg match.

The Garudas hold a slim one-goal advantage after the first leg in Bogor but the War Elephants will be eager to make amends for their first loss of the tournament.

Nevertheless, Riedl and counterpart Kiatisuk Senamuang are both taking nothing for granted as they prepare for what could be the biggest match of their coaching careers.

"Tomorrow will be another difficult match for us despite our 2-1 lead at the moment because we know that Thailand is without doubt the best team in Southeast Asia," said the Indonesia coach during Friday's pre-match press conference in Bangkok.

"Our target is to have a great game over 90 minutes and to challenge the Thai team as good as we can because they are favourites."

The Indonesia coach also dismissed his team's inferior record when playing in Thailand, reinforcing his team's intent ahead of the game.

"It is time to change history," said Riedl. "Why else are we here? To win the Cup of course.

"We know it will be difficult but we are not here in Bangkok just for a holiday. There are better places to spend your holiday than a big city in Thailand."

It has not been an easy tournament for the four-time runners-up, as the team entered this year's AFF Suzuki Cup after a year and a half in the international wilderness.

Riedl also had his hands tied by an agreement between the Indonesian league and football federation which saw the coach limited to picking only two players from each club.

Despite that, the unfamiliar side almost surprised Thailand in the first group game in Manila during a 4-2 loss, before drawing with Philippines and beating Singapore to qualify for the semi-finals.

Vietnam were next but they too were dispatched over two legs before the surprise 2-1 victory over Kiatisuk Senamuang's men in Bogor.

"Of course I'm happy with the results so far and the way we are playing," said Riedl. "We are now in the final and maybe only one out of a hundred people thought we could have made it at the start.

"From the first match of the two legged final, I think the pressure was on Thailand because we were the underdogs who had gone further than we had hoped in the beginning.

"Now we've won there's certainly [more expectations than before] but we do not have more pressure."

Thailand coach Kiatisuk, on the other hand, knows what his team have to do in Bangkok on Saturday evening.

"Indonesia gave Thailand plenty of difficulties in the first match but tomorrow all the squad is ready and prepared for the game," said 'Zico'. "Our target is to be champions and everyone is ready for it.

"We have to forget about the past and tomorrow the target is to win our fifth title."

AFF Suzuki Cup Sponsors