Under-23 Malaysian squad shrugs off pressure to conquer Gelora Bung Karno
Indonesia may have captured 170 gold medals in the Sea Games but Malaysia denied the host the one it craved the most by winning the football final at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta yesterday.
The brave Young Tigers withstood tremendous pressure from their opponents and the partisan 100,000 emotional fans in the stadium to come from behind, force extra timeand then win the ensuing penalty shoot-out 4-3 after the match ended 1-1.
Amid an electrifying and tense atmosphere which had the populations of both countries glued to their television sets, Ong Kim Swee’s boys walked tall after having faced many hostile situations since arriving in Jakarta two weeks ago.
In an ominous sign of what was going to be a long night for the Under-23 Malaysian team, their trip to the stadium was delayed by 40 minutes because of hostile fans along the way.
Many fans, who were in a rage after failing to get tickets, had set fire to ticket booths, worsening the situation.
The Malaysian team had opted not to take the Barracuda armoured vehicles, deciding to brave the journey to the stadium in a bus.
It took character to do that and the Malaysians showed they had an ample supply of that when they fought back despite seeing Indonesia taking the lead in the sixth minute.
They didn’t give up and kept pressing for the equaliser, even as the jeers from the stands grew louder.
And when it came to the penalty shoot-out, Malaysia proved they had nerves of steel, compared with the Indonesians who missed two of their attempts.
On the other hand, goalkeeper Kharul Fahmi epitomised the courage of the Young Tigers with his heroics in the penalty shoot-out while skipper Baddrol Bakthiar scored the
The Malaysian team’s tigerish performance was indeed a true manisfestation of the Malaysia Boleh spirit.
Malaysia, who started the Sea Games campaign with a tame 0-0 draw against Singapore, managed to defend the gold it won in 2009 in Laos.