Indonesia 'closer to dream' of World Cup after beating Philippines

Haye and Ridho score to secure a historic 2-0 win over the Philippines

AFP June 12, 2024


Indonesian fans and leaders hailed their football team after they booked a place in the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time after beating the Philippines on Tuesday.

The Indonesian team has only been represented once at a World Cup, in 1938, when it was still under colonial rule and known as the Dutch East Indies.

"Whan an incredible win! With this feat, we are getting closer to our dream to play at the World Cup," President Joko Widodo wrote on social media platform Instagram after the 2-0 win in capital Jakarta, where he was in attendance.

"Keep fighting Garuda National Team!"

Indonesia joined Iraq in advancing out of Group F, with Thom Haye and Rizky Ridho the goal-scoring heroes in front of a raucous crowd of 64,000.

It means Indonesia is the only Southeast Asian nation with a chance of World Cup qualification.

"It was a very important match. We knew what we had to do. I'm very happy I could contribute to that," said Haye, a 29-year-old midfielder who plays in the Dutch top flight for Heerenveen, after scoring his first international goal.

"I think we deserved the win today. It's a really special night."

Indonesian coach Shin Tae-yong has called on a policy of using naturalised players -- footballers with Indonesian heritage like Haye who was born in the Netherlands -- to boost the team's success.

It has seen the Red and White's FIFA ranking rise eight places to 134th in the world, the biggest jump in the global body's last update in April.

"Because of the players' hard work on the field, we managed to create a new history and we finally got through to the third round of the World Cup qualification," Shin told reporters.

Fans took to social media to celebrate the win but also to express hope for a berth in the tournament that will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"Thank God, we are still carrying on with our dream of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, the struggle is not over, keep the spirit of Garuda!" wrote one X user, referring to Indonesia's national symbol.

The third round will see 18 teams -- including top Asian seeds Japan, South Korea and Iran -- vie for six automatic World Cup spots across three groups, while two more spots will be up for grabs in the fourth round.

The win means Indonesia also booked its place in the AFC Asian Cup finals, to be hosted by Saudi Arabia in 2027.

"I think it's really important that we believe we can achieve these results, and everything starts with the belief first. In the next round, we want to show who we are," said Haye.

"It doesn't stop here."


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