Attacked Indonesia bus forced to halt journey in sour Suzuki Cup aftermath
Barely 10 minutes after a smiling and laughing Indonesian squad had left My Dinh Stadium, the team bus unexpectedly returned with FourFourTwo present as a now-damaged bus arrived and a shell-shocked team was escorted off by local police.
There were two rocks thrown near people’s faces ... that can end someone’s career. It’s a terrible thing to happen to us
One window on the right hand side, near the front of the bus, was totally shattered with glass strewn inside the vehicle.
The team’s goalkeeping coach was the worst affected, suffering extensive cuts to both legs and treated on the scene by medical personnel.
Evan Dimas told FourFourTwo that he feared the worst.
“If it is something that grazes your body it’s not such a terrible thing but in this case where there were two rocks thrown near people’s faces then that can end someone’s career – it’s a terrible thing to happen to us.”
Multiple players and staff confirmed to FourFourTwo that the team only had police escorts at the front and the rear of the bus – not on the sides as is standard practice at major tournaments.
— Scott McIntyre (@mcintinhos) December 7, 2016
It’s believed that a group of supporters riding motorbikes recognised the team bus, then threw at least two items described as rocks at the bus, with the players praising the quick-thinking actions of the driver to immediately turn around and return to the stadium.
Only a short time earlier Indonesia had qualified for the Suzuki Cup final following an extraordinary extra-time victory over the favoured Vietnamese.
“If the driver didn’t do that the crowd could have quickly grown and we would really have been in trouble,” Dimas said.
Vietnam Football Federation General-Secretary Le Hoai Anh told FourFourTwo that he was “sorry” for the incident which he blamed on the local police.
“We want to apologise to Indonesia for this unfortunate incident but the police had their own security plans in place and maybe they didn’t anticipate this kind of incident.”
Indonesian coach Alfred Riedl added “some people are crazy all over the world and they were obviously not happy that we reached the final” whilst Stefano Lilipaly told FourFourTwo that he was “worried” serious damage would be done to him or his teammates.
A replacement bus was eventually dispatched with a heavy security detail in place, including riot police travelling inside the bus, as it returned more than half an hour later to the team’s hotel.
Main photo: Scott McIntyre/FFT