AFF Cup Loss Spurs Calls to Unite Indonesian Football
After the national team was ousted from the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, captain Elie Aiboy called for unity in the country’s football.
The Merah Putih lost 2-0 to Malaysia on Saturday night at Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, to finish third in Group B but failed to qualify for the semifinals.
Malaysia was second and joined group leader Singapore, who beat Laos 4-3 at Shah Alam Stadium on the same night, to the last four rounds of the biennial regional tournament.
It’s only the second time after 2007 that Indonesia failed to qualify from the group stage since the championship was inaugurated in 1996.
All football stake holders in the country know that the power struggles, which caused the ongoing rifts and have divided the country’s football, were behind the fall.
Elie, 33, urged all parties to sit together and find a solution to resolve the problems.
“We actually have lots of potential players who would be good additions for the national team. But these protracted conflicts have prevented them to join the team,” the Semen Padang midfielder said. “We should unite together to rebuild Indonesian football starting now. We don’t want to be behind others, do we?”
In order to rival the official Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), the opposition established a rival body named the Indonesian Football Savior Committee (KPSI), which runs the breakaway Indonesian Super League.
The KPSI was forbidding all players from its league to answer the call from national team head coach Nil Maizar.
Persija Jakarta striker Bambang Pamungkas, 32, was the only ISL player who dared to defy the order and joined Nil’s team for the AFF Cup.
Elie said that the conflict shouldn’t be affecting the national team.
“I think players should always be ready to play for the country. If the coach calls me, I’ll join the team regardless who leads the PSSI,” he said.
Football pundit Budiarto Shambazy called for “football’s elite in the country” to end the dispute and urged the government to take action resolving the conflicts.
“This failure should be a reflection for officials in the PSSI and KPSI to stop feuding. This is what they get from the conflicts,” Budiarto told news portal Detik.com.
The PSSI, the KPSI and the government, he said, should all be responsible and unite to clean up the mess.
“The government has been mostly silent and reluctant to end years of conflicts. I think reconciliation should be possible, and it’s the government who has to start the reconciliation process,” Budiarto said.