Riedl relieved with victory

Friday, December 17, 2010
Indonesia coach Alfred Riedl was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief after watching his side grab a narrow advantage in their AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final against the Philippines with a 1-0 win in the first leg at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on Thursday.

The Indonesians, who are hosting both legs of the last four clash, dominated proceedings but struggled to break down the well-marshalled Filipino defence that had conceded only one goal in their previous three matches.

But a defensive mix-up between goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and defender Ray Jonsson allowed Cristian Gonzales to net the only goal of the game in the 32nd minute.

While delighted with the result, Riedl sounded a note of caution ahead of the return match this weekend.

"It was a very important win for us tonight but we must remember that our place in the final is not secured yet. We still have a very difficult match to play on Sunday," the Austrian said.

"I think our opponents played very well. They have tall players, are good at defending the ball and they made it very difficult for us to win challenges and create chances. Therefore I am very happy with the result, especially as we have won what for us was our 'away' game.

"There were few chances for both teams to score. The Philippines had two good chances in the first half when we didn't attack enough. However the misunderstanding between their goalkeeper and defender 15 minutes before half-time allowed us to get the crucial goal."

Riedl felt that the heroic performance of the Philippines in front of a hostile crowd of 70,000 proved that they were well deserving of their place in the last four.

"Today, we saw why the Philippines are in semi-finals. They are a very strong team but I think that we deserved the win because we were the more active team.

"We put our players behind and tried to attack them with the long passing. I think that we deserved the 1-0 win but it will be difficult for us on Sunday."

Such was his respect for his Filipino opponents that Riedl opted to abandon his team's usual short passing game for a more direct approach.

"Today we weren't able to play a short passing game. When we attacked, we tried to play the ball behind their defence. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn't.

"It is not our best style to play long passes – I don't like it – but playing short passes would have been dangerous because if they had intercepted they could have counter attacked very quickly.

"A 1-0 lead is still a very dangerous scoreline so we will have to play to win the second match as well. It will be too dangerous to play for a draw in the second leg so we cannot afford to play defensively.

"Hopefully, we can score more goals in the second leg but the Philippines will need to attack as well so hopefully they will give us some space to launch our counter-attacks successfully."


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