Indonesia advised to leave Southeast Asian football federation

By Hoang An   August 28, 2023 | 04:00 am PT
Indonesia advised to leave Southeast Asian football federation
Vietnam midfielder Nguyen Hong Phuc (white) loses the ball to Indonesia players during the final of the AFF U23 Championship in Rayong Stadium, Thailand, on Aug. 26, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
If the ASEAN Football Federation does not penalize Vietnam for a collision at Saturday's AFF U23 Championship final, Indonesia should stop playing Southeast Asian tournaments, a club president said.

In the 113th minute of the final on Saturday, Indonesian defender Haykal Alhafiz and Vietnamese midfielder Nguyen Hong Phuc both went for the ball on the flank. Phuc cleared the ball and jumped up to dodge a high foot from Alhafiz. When Phuc landed, he swung his arms to the back which hit Alhafiz’s face. It took a while for Alhafiz to return to play after medical attention.

The main referee Hiroki Kasahara did not book Phuc, but many considered his play as intentional.

After the match, Achsanul Qosasi, president of Indonesian club Madura United, wrote on Instagram: "If Phuc doesn't get penalized by AFF, Indonesia should do something and consider stopping competing in Southeast Asian tournaments. After hitting Alhafiz, he should have apologized and showed some respect."

Indonesian fans were also furious with Phuc's actions. They flooded his Instagram with criticism and even insults. His most recent photo had more than 35,000 comments from Indonesian fans and now his account has been deactivated.

A few minutes after Phuc's play, Alhafiz took revenge with a hard tackle on Nguyen Dang Duong. This time the ref gave Alhafiz a yellow card.

Kasahara gave out eight yellow cards in this game, three for Vietnam and five for Indonesia.

The game, played in Thailand's Rayong Stadium, also had other dangerous plays from both sides, but no goals were scored. In the penalty shootout, Vietnam succeeded in all of their penalties, while Indonesia fumbled one with goalkeeper Ernando Ari’s miss.

Vietnam became the first team to defend the AFF U23 Championship.

Indonesia have considered leaving AFF before, after the AFF U19 Championship in July last year. They said Vietnam and Thailand had played without sportsmanship in the last game of the group stage, which ended as a draw and eliminated Indonesia early. The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) complained to the AFF and considered quitting Southeast Asian football to join the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF).

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