Vietnam's golden generation 'coming to an end': Indonesia coach

By Hieu Luong   March 30, 2024 | 05:00 pm PT
Indonesia coach Shin Tae-yong believes the golden generation of Vietnamese football is heading towards the end of their successful cycle, while Indonesia are enjoying a meteoric rise.
Nguyễn Quang Hải thất vọng khi không được thi đấu trong hai trận Việt Nam thua Indonesia ở vòng loại hai World Cup 2026. Ảnh: Giang Huy

Nguyen Quang Hai (L) expresses disappointment after not getting to play in both of Vietnam's games against Indonesia at the 2026 World Cup's second qualifying round, March 26, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

"Vietnam are a strong team. However, Vietnam's golden generation is coming to an end," said Shin in an interview with South Korean newspaper My Daily.

"On the other hand, Indonesia are building a golden generation and are moving forward."

The South Korean coach made his statement after Indonesia defeated Vietnam 3-0 in the fourth game of Group F of the 2026 FIFA World Cup second qualifiers, ending Indonesia's 20-year winless streak at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi. It was also Indonesia's third straight victory over Vietnam, following two 1-0 wins in the 2023 Asian Cup group stages and the third match of Group F of the World Cup qualifiers.

The two recent victories have helped Indonesia put one foot in the third qualifiers and pushed Vietnam to the brink of elimination.

Coach Shin cited that the Indonesia national team have many talented young players, with an average age of under 23. In fact, their average squad age in the two matches against Vietnam in the 2026 World Cup second qualifiers was 21.5 and 22.5, respectively.

The team’s foundation is the combination of the U23 generation that won the gold medal at the 32nd SEA Games and dual-heritage players aged between 20 and 29 currently competing in Europe.

Indonesia’s current upward trajectory bears similarities to Vietnam’s peak under coach Park Hang-seo from 2018 to 2022, when Vietnam won the 2018 AFF Cup, reached the quarterfinals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, and made it to the 2022 World Cup third qualifiers for the first time. The backbone of the team during this period was the talented players who were runners-up in the 2018 U23 Asian Cup and won two SEA Games gold medals in 2019 and 2021.

Shin’s Indonesia were unable to beat Park’s Vietnam in both senior and U23 levels, managing two draws and three losses. The 53-year-old cited Covid-19 as one of the reason for his inability to execute his plans in 2020 and 2021. However, Shin's long-term vision, focusing on nurturing and trusting young players, has paid off for Indonesia.

"I took a big risk when I first took office in Indonesia. I focused on nurturing young players. I watched many players, many were eliminated, and many survived. The players who survived are now the main players of the Indonesian national team," Shin told My Daily. "The players now know my style well and are following along well."

In the past two years, Indonesian football has achieved many milestones, including ending a 32-year drought for SEA Games gold, advancing past the Asian Cup group stage for the first time, and having the opportunity to make their first appearance at the World Cup third qualifiers. In the FIFA rankings, Indonesia were 173rd when Shin took over at the end of 2019, and they are expected to rise to 133rd by April.

Indonesia’s successful journey includes four victories over Vietnam, directly resulting in coach Philippe Troussier’s early departure, despite his initial contract running until July 2026.

The Indonesia coach admitted feeling unhappy about Troussier's sacking. One philosophy that Shin emphasizes to his players is not hurting their opponents, who are their colleagues and fellow football lovers.

HLV Shin Tae-yong (trái) bắt tay HLV Troussier trước trận Việt Nam thua Indonesia 0-3 ở sân Mỹ Đình hôm 26/3. Ảnh: Lâm Thoả

Coach Shin Tae-yong (L) shakes hands with coach Philippe Troussier before Vietnam and Indonesia's match at the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in Hanoi, March 26, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa

"I don't want to hurt the other coach. Who would feel good about quitting their job? I could be like that someday. Coach Trussier is a gentleman and a good coach," Shin told My Daily.

Indonesia will play two more matches for the World Cup qualifiers' second round, against Iraq and the Philippines, at home in June.

Prior to those matches, Shin will take the Indonesia U23 team to the AFC U23 Asian Cup finals, where they are in Group A with hosts Qatar, Australia, and Jordan. Shin has been tasked with helping the team advance past the group stages for the first time. This is also one of the factors that the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) will take into consideration when deciding if they would extend Shin's contract, which is set to expire in June 2024.

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