Indonesia get past Asian Cup group stage for first time

By Trung Thu   January 25, 2024 | 06:18 pm PT
Indonesia get past Asian Cup group stage for first time
Indonesia players celebrate a goal against Japan in the Asian Cup group stage game on Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by the Asian Football Confederation
Indonesia slipped through the narrow gap into the Asian Cup's round of 16 for the first time ever, as one of the best third-placed teams, after Oman failed to beat Kyrgyzstan on Thursday.

On the third-placed teams ranking, Indonesia (group D) are fourth with three points, one behind Jordan (group E), Palestine (group C) and Syria (group B), while Oman and China were eliminated with only two points.

Indonesia have three points thanks to a 1-0 win over Vietnam in the second round. This is the first time Indonesia have gotten past the Asian Cup group stage, after four appearances in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2007. They are also one of two Southeast Asian team, besides Thailand, to advance to the round of 16 in this year’s tournament.

At Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, Oman needed a win against Kyrgyzstan to advance and soon got ahead in the eighth minute. From a corner on the left, Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Erzhan Tokotaev punched the ball poorly and Muhsen Al Ghassani rushed in to head it over the line for Oman.

The following minutes saw good control of tempo from Oman. The most dangerous chance Kyrgyzstan created was in the 28th minute, when Farkhat Musabekov finished over the bar even though no one was marking him at the edge of the box.

In the second half, Kyrgyzstan striker Joel Kojo headed the ball into the net in the 46th minute, but the referee called it offside. Oman played counterattack and created many good chances, but the shots of Mahmood Al-Mushaifri in the 66th minute, Ahmed Al-Kaabi in the 67th minute or Salaah Al-Yahyaei in the 85th minute were all blocked by Tokotaev, who made amazing saves this game.

Unable to increase the gap, Oman had to pay the price after one mistake in the 80th minute. Oman goalkeeper Ibrahim Al Mukhaini and defender Khalid Al-Braiki bumped into each other after trying to catch a long ball, allowing Kojo to put it into the empty net and equalize for Kyrgyzstan. The last 10 minutes and seven additional minutes were not enough for Oman to score another goal and they had to exit the tournament early.

For Indonesia, they will face group B winner Australia in the round of 16 on Jan. 28.

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