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AFF U19 Championship

'Malaysian players were taking selfies' - PSSI sec-gen downplays AFF U-19 incident

5:55 AM EDT 7/25/18
Ratu Tisha Destria - Sekjen PSSI
Indonesian FA's Ratu Tisha wants the heated rivalry between the country and Malaysia to be cherished, and not blown out of proportion.


BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter


Indonesian FA (PSSI) secretary-general Ratu Tisha Destria has downplayed the crowd trouble involving Malaysia U-19 in the recent AFF U-19 Youth Championship that the country hosted recently.

Following the Young Tigers' semi-final penalty shootout win over hosts and archrivals Indonesia U-19 at the Gelora Delta Stadium, Sidoarjo, on July 12, the home fans thronged the VIP stands, and started throwing bottles towards the Malaysian bench. The Malaysian players and staff were offered only minimal protection by the stadium security, and had to run one-by-one into the tunnel in order to escape being pelted with missiles.

However, when met by the press at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) headquarters on Wednesday after the 2018 Asian Games redraw, Tisha decided to play down the incident, when it was raised by Goal.

"We need to really understand the complexity and the history of the rivalry; the Malaysian players were taking selfies on the pitch while waiting for the crowd to disperse (after the match). It (the missile throwing) did not reflect the reality of the match.

"If we go back to the 2010 AFF Championship, there was tremendous pressure from the crowd; there were 70,000 fans inside the stadium, but we still managed to take care, evacuate the team from the stadium overtime, because we are concerned over the security of the Malaysian team. That's the kind of rivalry that has been building up, something that we need to treasure more, and not put blame on.

"The U-19 team were able to celebrate the win on the pitch after the win, taking selfies, something they couldn't be able to do if the situation was too scary. I can show you the recordings and photos. The incident was only 0.0001 per cent of the whole rivalry between Indonesia and Malaysia. There had been a previous incident, whereby Indonesian fans had clashed with the home fans outside the Bukit Jalil National Stadium; there is history in it.  

"Let's not look at this as a sort of war, but as something to be treasured. Of course we will protect the players and coaches a 100 per cent, as we have always done, by employing police and military personnel to secure their safety," she explained.

When asked whether the immense pressure by their fans to win against Malaysia even at junior levels, has caused their inability to beat Malaysia instead, she responded with a question of her own:

"How do you control public pressure?"

In 2017, Malaysia U-19 defeated Indonesia 4-1 in the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers, while Malaysia U-23 beat their Indonesian counterparts twice; in the SEA Games and the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers. One week before the AFF U-19 semi-final clash between the two countries, Malaysia U-16 defeated Indonesia U-16 4-3 in a friendly match.

"How do you control public pressure with all the history between Indonesia and Malaysia? And it doesn't just happen because of the rivalry. Indonesian football had gone through its conflict years; seven years of dualism, the FIFA sanction, and now the fans miss the feeling of becoming champions. They want to win, and they want to win now!

"So you understand why there's this pressure, even at junior levels, and I can assure you that it's not just against Malaysia. And with all these results, the pressure will double the next time we play Malaysia.

"Perhaps what we can do with our young players is to limit their use of the media, coach them on public speaking. But to control 250 million people, that's beyond our capabilities. We'd rather focus on strengthening the teams, which is something we can control, rather on public pressure, which is something that we have no power over," remarked Tisha.

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