News Indonesia U23 Stuns South Korea To Enter SFs Of AFC AU23 Asian Cup

In March 2015, Indonesia’s hopes of making it to their first AFC U23 Asian Cup™ were dashed when they fell 4-0 to Korea Republic in their final qualifying match. On Thursday evening, slightly more than nine years on, Indonesia demonstrated the remarkable progress they have achieved since by pulling off a 11-10 win on penalties against the same opponents to seal a historic semi-final place at the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™.

Pratama Arhan’s decisive spot-kick in a marathon shootout after proceedings had ended 2-2 capped a hard-earned triumph for the tournament debutants, who were pegged back twice in regulation time despite playing with a one-man advantage from the 70th minute onwards. For Hwang Sun-hong’s charges, who have made the last four on four out of the five previous editions - more than any other team - the defeat ended their hopes of making the Olympic Games for a 12th time.

One of the competition’s favourites and perennial powerhouses, Korea Republic were pressed back right from the start at the Abdullah Bin Khalifah Stadium and a superb first-half brace from Rafael Struick seemed to have set Indonesia up for a third consecutive win.
The opening goal, in the 15th minute, was glorious from Struick, who brought a loose ball under control on the edge of the box before curling a sublime effort into the top right corner as Korea Republic conceded for the first time at Qatar 2024.
The 21-year-old’s second was also an opportunistic finish, albeit in a different manner. Chasing a long ball from Ivar Jenner in the fourth minute of added time, Struick capitalised to slot it past Baek Jong-bum after both the goalkeeper and Lee Kang-hee had left the ball for each other only for neither to claim it.
It typified Indonesia’s tenacity too, for it came just three minutes after Eom Ji-sung’s header had deflected off the unfortunate Komang Teguh and sneaked past Ernando Ari in the Indonesian goal for the equaliser.
And while the Southeast Asians did survive a scare in the eighth minute when Lee Kang-hee’s strike was chalked off following a VAR review that revealed Eom had been offside in the build-up, Korea Republic struggled to break down the opposition defence otherwise.
It was Indonesia who came closer to adding a third after the break, as Pratama and Struick both fired wide from good positions, with Korea Republic still reeling.
Indeed, the East Asians would end up only registering two shots on target, in part because of an outstanding rearguard display from Indonesia, exemplified by a crucial last-ditch block from captain Rizky Ridho to repel Kang Seong-jin’s close-range strike on the hour mark.
Korea Republic were also not helped by the dismissal of half-time substitute Lee Young-jun – the competition’s joint-leading scorer – with 20 minutes of regulation time left, following a VAR review.
But just when it seemed like they were down and out, the 2020 champions pulled off the perfect breakaway goal in the 84th minute. Having committed too many bodies forward for a corner, Indonesia were caught out when Baek collected the ball and immediately launched it to Hong Yun-sang, who was already racing away as part of a two-on-two situation.
The midfielder then slipped the perfect pass to fellow substitute Jeong Sang-bin, who calmly slotted the ball past Ernando to draw his side level for the second time.
With neither side unable to find a third in extra time, the tie was decided via spot-kicks and after each player on the pitch had taken a penalty each, Ernando pulled off his second save in the shootout to deny Lee and set the stage for Pratama to fire Indonesia to triumph.
That sent the Indonesian support in the partisan 9,105-strong crowd, who chanted head coach Shin Tae-yong’s name during the match, into delirium as their team’s dream run was extended.
It also marked a full-circle moment for Shin, who was at the helm of that Korea Republic team nine years ago and eventually led them to a runners-up finish at the 2016 edition.
If the 53-year-old can steer his current side past Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia in the last four to repeat that achievement, he will cement a brand new legacy in Indonesia.
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