In an attempt to defuse the tension ahead of their AFF U-16 semi-final, Malaysia and Indonesia attended a social event the day before the match. In an attempt to defuse the tension ahead of their AFF U-16 Championship semi-final match on Thursday, Malaysia and host team Indonesia attended a social event together the day before the match.
The two teams had a meal together at a hotel in Surabaya, with Indonesia represented by head coach Fakhri Husaini and players; David Maulana and Amiruddin Bagus Kahfi Alfikri. On the Malaysian side, head coach Raja Azlan Shah Raja So’ib brought along Amirul Ashrafiq Hanifah, Dinesh Baskaran and Danish Ishak.
The Indonesian edition of Goal quoted Fakhri who remarked on the long-standing relationship between the two countries in the sport. “Raja and I are friends, whereas the players know each other. This is normal. Everyone wants to maintain the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship,” he said after the brief event.
The Indonesian FA (PSSI) too has urged the home fans to refrain from violent behaviour in the match that will be held at the Gelora Delta Sidoarjo Stadium at 7.00 pm Malaysian time. “Let’s be a good host, and avoid hurling insults, slurs, and provocation at the young boys on the pitch. Instead let’s cheer them on with spirited chants, and behave well so that the world does not judge as louts and oafs.
“We must be proud that Sidoarjo and Indonesia have been trusted to host competitions, and we must repay that trust as well as we can,” wrote PSSI official Achmad Riyadh. The Indonesia-Malaysia rivalry has always been heated especially at the senior team level, but in the past month the tension has also seeped into the junior levels. In early July, the home fans pelted Malaysia U-19 players and coaches with missiles after they defeated Indonesia on penalties in the semi-final stage, a match that was also held at Gelora Delta Sidoarjo.
Just before the AFF U-16 began, Malaysia Amirul drew the ire of Indonesians for mistakenly displaying the Polish flag instead of the Indonesian flag in an Instagram post, which was taken by the Indonesian fans as displaying their flag upside down.
In Malaysia’s first group match, against Thailand, the Indonesian fans who thronged the match venue displayed provocative banners and sang abusive chants towards Raja Azlan’s charges, and the Malaysian FA (FAM) issued a statement on the following day that it would report the home fans’ action to the AFF and AFC.