Tuesday, November 22, 2011
No Guts, No Glory
Not many of us will have experienced anything like it. There are 100,000 people in the stadium urging you on while tens of millions round the country will have their fists clenched on the edge of their seats in homes and warungs. Despite everyone being behind you it must be the loneliest walks ever.
Ahead lies the penalty box and a small white spot. Beyond that the goal with Khairul Fahmie, one of the best young keepers in the region, jumping up and down, trying to distract you. Perhaps even engaging in a bit of sledging.
The goal seems so small. Tiny white sticks, pencil thin, are dwarved by the double tier stand behind full to overflowing with fans in red and white cheering, praying, hoping.
All you have to do is put the ball past the keeper and everyone will be happy. Your team mates, disappearing behind you in the all too familiar huddle in the centre circle, will rush to pat you on the back while the supporters in and out the stadium will release enormous amounts of pent up energy. At least until the next taker.
It’s impossible to replicate that long, lonely walk in training. For Gunawan Dwi Cahyo, nothing could have prepared him for this moment. Indeed the look on his face as the camera recorded his own personal long march for You Tube and the watching millions in the region told its own story. His lips moved incessantly in silent prayer but the rest of his body seemed frozen in time. He was moving but he was giving off the distinct impression he would rather be anywhere than a football field in Jakarta about to kick a ball 12 yards.
It was Gunawan of course who had given Indonesia the lead in the first half but that was a long time ago. It had been cancelled out when sloppy defending had allowed Malaysia to equalize.
After the game Indonesian coach Rahmad Darmawan was reported to have said some of his players went missing when he called for volunteers to take penalties to decide the destiny of the SEA Games gold. If this is true then it is a shocking admission that Indonesia is still far from being a major football power in their own region.
In a nut shell, Indonesian footballers have it too easy. They are cocooned from the world; they play in a domestic league where they are big fish, on big salaries, lording it, playing Billy Big Bollocks in a small pond.
Contrast that with Malaysia. I never tire of repeating this. This Malaysia team, and the ones coming up behind them, have learnt about intimidation and pressure the hard way. They have played in Slovakia, far from their comfort zone; they have won trophies in Vientiane and Jakarta. In short they have become winners the hard way and they are stronger for it. Both physically and mentally.
And next year they will enter a team in Singapore’s SLeague. There will be no love lost there, believe me.
Meanwhile Singapore will enter a team in Malaysia’s league next season and again, taken from their comfort zone of travelling short distances on the bus after a game they will have to endure hostile crowds and unfamiliar conditions. A 12 hour trek back from Kelantan after losing in the last minute in front of a partisan crowd with the ref giving everything to your hosts does wonders for building team spirit.
Playing endless friendlies against local teams in familiar surroundings does nothing. Not when the pressure is on.
capacity of jalan besar stadium: 6000
with the project in uruguay still on going the prospect looks a little brighter and youre right...i think thailand and singapore have had their day, it is time for malaysia and indonesia to rule the roost in south east asia