Indonesia played with heart and soul in the second leg of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup final on Wednesday. Although the Merah Putih team failed to win the title, the players can hold their heads high. Millions of Indonesians — from street vendors to chief executives — cheered for the team, whether at Bung Karno Stadium or in front of TV screens. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the first lady, Ani Yudhoyono , showed their support by watching the team play live. In a way, the Merah Putih campaign has brought the nation together and filled Indonesians with a new pride. Love for football has a binding effect. After Wednesday’s match, Merah Putih coach Alfred Riedl said the team had failed to capitalize on its chances. “We should’ve scored five or six goals in the game,” he said. He congratulated Malaysia, but said: “I think the better team lost tonight.” Indeed, it was clear to everyone how well the team played. Indonesia dictated the pace of play and had the Malaysians on the back foot much of the match. Of course, the Malaysians, with a big lead from the first leg, were content to play a defensive game. Sports is not only a question of winning or losing, however. It is also a question of sportsmanship, not only by the players but also the fans. While the crowd that filled Bung Karno Stadium to maximum capacity was boisterous, there was no violence. Our hat goes off to the fans. Indonesia’s loss, however, should not be the end of the road. The team’s remarkable campaign should serve as a foundation for further victories, both in football and other fields. If anything, the AFF Cup has shown us that we can be disciplined and perform well, given ample training, proper facilities and the right opportunities. We must aim higher, just as the national squad went above and beyond expectations. We are now left with the task of striving to put some order into our nation’s sports, a field that has been marked by lackluster performances in recent years. With everyone’s attention turned toward the football pitch, we should seize this opportunity to promote sports as a vehicle for nation- and character-building. Winning is important, of course, but if we win through unsportsmanlike behavior like harassing our opponents or being unruly in the stands, our victory would be hollow. We would be setting a bad example for our young people and tarnishing our national image and reputation. Indonesia must win through fair play, and at the same time learn to be gracious losers. That is ultimately the true meaning of sports. News Source : The Jakarta Gl0be Photo Source : kabar dari jogja blog

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