SINGAPORE - A nervous Indonesia side breathed a collective sigh of relief after seeing off the Philippines to reach next week's AFF Cup final.
Indonesia won both legs of the two-legged semi-final by a narrow one goal to nil, despite having home advantage in both matches after it had been ruled the Philippines lacked the facilities to stage their home tie.
"I think this sort of game is not good for weak nerves," Indonesia's Austrian coach Alfred Riedl said after Sunday night's win courtesy of a lone Cristian Gonzales goal.
"For us, today's game was probably our most difficult game of the tournament because of how physically strong the Philippines are. For me they are like a European team, not a Southeast Asian team. Playing against big players like they have, it is harder to break it down to one-on-one battles.
"We were not looking for a good game today; we were looking to reach the final."
Indonesia will face Malaysia in the two-legged final of the Southeast Asian championship after the Malaysians earlier beat favoured Vietnam in their semi-final.
The Indonesians thrashed Malaysia in the group stages of the biennial event but know it will be no easy task to win their first AFF Cup.
"The final will be a typical clash between two neighbours," Riedl said. "Of course we beat them 5-1 during the group stage but we felt that the score did not reflect how close the game was."
The Malaysians are upbeat about their chances. "This is the year for Malaysia to surprise, we are in the final and I think we will go all the way," coach K. Rajagobal said.
""We are in the final and we have beaten the defending champions [2008 winners Vietnam] so we are looking forward to the final with peace of mind."comments