The Under-21 national team continued to be a ray of sunshine amid the gloomy landscape of Indonesian football as it advanced to the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy final on Wednesday. The Young Garuda beat Vietnam 2-0 in their semifinal match at Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, to reach the final of the event featuring Asean Football Federation members’ U-21 teams. In Friday’s championship, coach Widodo C. Putro’s side will play either host Brunei or Burma, who played later on Wednesday. Indonesia will try to win the event for the second time, having done so in the inaugural tournament in 2022. Two Persebaya 1927 Surabaya strikers, Miko Ardianto and Andik Vermansyah, teamed up for Indonesia’s goals. Miko hit the first in the 35th minute after receiving a pass from Andik and the score stayed until halftime, and the 20-year-old returned the favor in the second half as he set up Andik for the second in the 71st. Like the other national teams, the U-21s were restricted to selecting players from leagues sanctioned by the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI). “I’m very pleased with the result, but I told the boys to keep their feet on the ground because this is not over yet,” Widodo told the Jakarta Globe by text message. “The key to victory was our strong midfield. I told them not to let Vietnam’s players dominate the midfield and they did just that. Now I’ll try to get the players back to top fitness for Friday’s final after this grueling match.” The victory was a welcome bit of good news, especially after the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs said on Tuesday that it would halt government funding for the PSSI. It partly blamed the incessant bickering in domestic football’s governing body for the senior team’s 10-0 loss at Bahrain in 2014 World Cup qualifying. However, acting ministry secretary Djoko Pekik aid on Wednesday that there was still a chance the PSSI would receive this year’s budget, in which it asked for Rp 40 billion ($4.4 million). “We’re waiting to see if the PSSI can restore order in its own house,” Djoko said. “If they can settle their differences in the March 18 congress, we’ll give the funding back to them.” The PSSI is scheduled to hold its annual congress in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, on March 18, while rebel members have said they will hold their own summit in Jakarta on the same day. Elsewhere, the Indonesian Premier League’s Arema Indonesia began its run in the AFC Cup with a 1-1 home draw against Burma’s Ayeyawady United. Roman Chmelo put Arema ahead at Gajayana Stadium in Malang after 28 minutes. The host lost defender Gunawan Dwi Cahyo in the 41st minute to a red card for a tackle from behind on Jupiter Yves Ngangue, though. The Burmese side leveled in the 63rd after Fariz Bagus Dhinata’s own-goal. The Arema defender scored into his own net while trying to block a shot by Ngangue. taken from The Jakarta Globe

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