Goal.com Singapore takes a closer look at the key areas where the match could be won or lost for the Lions as they take on the Merah Putih on Wednesday evening
By Kenneth Tan
| BAIHAKKI KHAIZAN
This is one heavyweight clash – their experience is not in a question as both players are nearing a century of caps for their country.
32-year-old Bambang and 28-year-old ‘Bai’ are no strangers with the duo being teammates at Persija Jakarta during the 2010 Indonesia Super League season.
Thus Bai should not be unfamiliar with his opponent’s strength – outstanding leap in the air, sharp turning in the penalty area and ruthless finishing.The poster boy of Indonesian football suffered a torrid 90 minutes against the pesky Laotian defence though, while shackling Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Safee Sali should have done Bai’s confidence a world of good for this game.
With first choice left back Shaiful Esah unlikely to start barring a miracle, the experienced Bennett is likely to be shifted to the left with Irwan Shah filling in at right back.
The SAFFC defender is likely to have a handful, as Indonesia is expected to keep their ‘quick wingers’ strategy with Andik attacking down his flank and Octavius Maniani taking on Irwan on the other.
Judging based on their opening day draw against Laos, Andik should have no problems holding off veteran skipper Ellie Aiboy for the starting spot.
Having just celebrated his 21st birthday before that match, the dimunitive flanker destroyed the Laos left back time and again, creating chances at will for his forwards Bambang and Irfan Bachdim who unfortunately had poor evenings in front of goal.
Two players separated by 13 years in age, it will be interesting to see how Bennett copes with the trademark runs of Andik as he delves into the experience of playing at left back in the earlier part of his career.
| MUSTAFIC FAHRUDIN
An integral yet much unsung part of Singapore’s outstanding triumph against Malaysia was the midfield screen of Mustafic Fahrudin and Hariss who kept their Malaysian counterparts from strutting their stuff.
Their performance even earned praise from Indonesia coach Nil Maizar and come Wednesday, they will need to replicate those standards.
Already a veteran at this level, 31-year-old ‘Farra’ is the vital cog in the Lions’ midfield with his no-nonsense style of tackling.
On the other part, 29-year-old Tonnie will be looking to recover from a poor performance against Laos as he continues a budding partnership with Muhd Taufik in the middle of the park.
| ALEKSANDAR DURIC
After a delightful result against Malaysia the last time out, there is not much reason for coach Raddy Avramovic to tinker with the lineup – except that Indonesia is gaining a notorious reputation of failing to handle aerials crosses well in recent matches.
Thus the evergreen Duric should take over Khairul Amri’s role in spearheading the Lions’ attack.
The 42-year-old’s ability in hold-up play and scoring goals should not be a secret in this region as he comes up against an opponent who only made his international debut just three days ago.
Indeed the 28-year-old Dutch-born player grabbed a goal and was the best-performing Indonesia defender that day, however being part of a defence that leaked two against the lowest-ranked team in the competition hardly breeds confidence.
If Duric can win the duel between him and Maitimo, it should pave the way for the supporting cast of Shahril Ishak and co to create havoc for Indonesia custodian Wahyu Tri Nugroho.