2. After several years in the darkness, Indonesia are back
Indonesia entered the tournament as distant dark horses after missing out on more than a year of competitive football due to a one-year ban imposed by FIFA. While the Garuda failed to win their first-ever AFF trophy, it feels as though that the team will have a chance to challenge Thailand in the next few years.
The side were written off as having no hope of qualifying for the semi-finals after the first two matches, a spirited 4-2 loss to Thailand and a somewhat disappointing 2-2 draw to hosts Philippines. However, a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Singapore helped the Garuda finish second in the group, and they followed up their historic 4-3 aggregate win over Vietnam in the semifinals by defeating Thailand at home in the first leg of the final.
Under the management of Austrian manager Alfred Riedl, Indonesia are full of potential. With further efforts in youth development and stable management of the country’s domestic league, the country’s senior team could quickly rise to challenge Thailand’s dominance in the coming years.