22 November 2011

Sea games 2011: Young garudas carry hopes of an entire nation

JAKARTA (20 Nov 2011) – Myanmar he expectations of an Indonesian win at the SEA Games football final tomorrow are running so high that every football fan in and around Jakarta will be trying to get hold of the precious final tickets. The final tickets have become the most valuable commodity of the Games and touts are going to be in for a windfall.

The stadium will be jam-packed with up to 100,000 fans while thousands more are expected to fill Senayan and watch on the giant screens that have been set-up at strategic locations around the vast complex. An indication of the fans eagerness was that thousands have already begun lining up early this morning at the ticketing counters in Senayan. And tickets don’t come cheap; they are priced between 25,000 rupiah and 1,000,000 rupiah.

Millions have been following the exploits of the team on TV and the numbers are expected to rise even more for the final itself. In short, an entire nation, which has been starved of success for so long, will be watching, hoping and praying that the dry spell finally ends.

The Games have been on for more than two weeks and Indonesia have been absolutely dominant, wresting over 100 gold medals but it’s the outcome of the football final that the entire nation is looking forward to. They last won the gold in 1991 and their last appearance in the final was when Jakarta hosted the Games in 1997.

Football is the centrepiece of the Games, and anything less than bagging the gold will not cut it for the hosts. The newspapers and media were filled with stories of Indonesia’s sensational 2-0 victory over Vietnam last night and the fact that they are only 90 minutes away from possible a famous win.

With such high expectations, one can only imagine the immense pressure that the Indonesian players have to bear on their young shoulders. Coach Rahmad Darmawan has an enormous task to motivate his players and inspire them to bring out their best against Malaysia.

And that’s why he appealed to the media to not play up the win over Vietnam and talk about the gold. “The game is far from over, we are not yet champions. I have told the players to completely forget the win over Vietnam and concentrate on Malaysia,” Rahmad said.

Indonesia suffered a slim defeat in the group stage to Malaysia and this will be their chance to make up for it and sensationally claim the gold. Malaysia are not going to be easily threatened and will put up a tough fight as they try and defend their title won in Laos two years ago.

When Indonesia and Malaysia face each other on the pitch, we can all expect nothing less than an explosive final.

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