'We'll try to beat Vietnam again': Indonesia defender

By Hieu Luong   January 30, 2024 | 12:22 am PT
'We'll try to beat Vietnam again': Indonesia defender
Sandy Walsh (number 6) celebrates after scoring in Indonesia's 1-3 loss to Japan, in the final match of group D in Asian Cup on Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by AFC
Defender Sandy Walsh affirmed that the result at Asian Cup this year has made Indonesia more confident before they play Vietnam again in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in March.

Despite losing 4-0 to Australia in the Asian Cup's round of 16 on Sunday, Walsh believes that getting past the group stage for the first time is already a big achievement for Indonesian football.

"It gives us more confidence at the World Cup qualifiers," Walsh said. "We want to play more against top Asian teams, although it's not an easy thing to do."

In the 2023 Asian Cup group stage, Indonesia defeated Vietnam 1-0 in the second match, with the only goal on the penalty spot from Asnawi Mangkualam. This was the first victory by Indonesia's national team over Vietnam since the 2016 AFF Cup, and also helped them get past the group stage as one of the four best third-place teams.

In the upcoming 2026 World Cup second qualifying round, Indonesia will play Vietnam on March 21 and 26. Currently, Indonesia are at the bottom of group F with one point, alongside the Philippines but with a lower goal difference. They are two points behind Vietnam and five points behind Iraq. Therefore, the upcoming two matches are considered decisive for both Vietnam and Indonesia.

"We will try to beat Vietnam again. But for now, we will enjoy our achievement in the Asian Cup and be proud of what we have done," Walsh said.

The 29-year-old defender said that the current Indonesia national team are a mixture of experience and youth. He also praised coach Shin Tae-yong for his contribution to the recent success of Indonesian football.

"Coach Shin brought us to the Asian Cup to compete with the top teams in Asia. He motivated the players to develop and did unimaginable things for Indonesian football. There are no words to describe it. I think the team will be even better in the future," he said.

Walsh was born in Belgium but has an Irish father who was born in England and an Indonesian mother who was born in Switzerland and raised in the Netherlands. Therefore, he was eligible to play for several national teams. In November 2022, Walsh obtained Indonesian citizenship and played for the national team for the first time. Previously, Walsh played for the Netherlands U17 and U19 squads, winning the U17 European championship in 2012.

Walsh was trained at Anderlecht and Genk, the top football academies in Belgium. His pro career started by playing in the top-tier Belgian Pro League for Genk from 2012 to 2017, then Zulte Waregem from 2017 to 2020, and currently Mechelen.

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