With AFC Asian Cup 2019 knocking on our doors, FOX Sports Indonesia writer Zakky BM puts all the best players who have represented Indonesia in the continental showpiece since 1996 into one squad.
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“In 2000 and 2004 I received the man of the match awards in Asian Cup — when we played a 0-0 draw with Kuwait and won 2-1 against Qatar,” said Hendro. “But in the match against Kuwait, the one that ended in a 0-0 draw, I made many saves. So probably that was when they started calling me [Indonesian Fabien Barthez]. I only found out about it after the event.”
Hendro started to become a regular presence between the sticks at the 1996 Asian Cup. He was 23 years old and was a second-choice behind Kurnia Sandy. But when Kurnia suffered an injury in the match against Kuwait, Hendro became the first-choice for the rest of the competition. By the time the 2000 edition came, Hendro was already irreplaceable.
To be fair, Hendro conceded a fair amount of goals in his Asian Cup matches. But he was the best choice at the moment. He ended up with 60 caps to his name — one of the most-capped Indonesian internationals — when he decided to hang his gloves in 2011.
RB: ELIE AIBOY
Put him anywhere on the flank and he will run riot. As a winger or a fullback, he was a danger for the opposition because his dribbling was above average. During his teen years in the national team, Elie was ever-present on the right-hand side, including at the 2004 and 2007 Asian Cup. He had 48 caps and scored 8 goals.
He’s retired now and is building a career in coaching. A Liga Nusantara club named SS Lampung FC is where he started his coaching career. His latest move was joining Porda Bekasi team several months ago.
CB: YEYEN TUMENA
Yeyen Tumena suffered a devastating blow at the 1996 Asian Cup. The match against United Arab Emirates turned out to be a nightmare for the man who, at that competition, was the mainstay defender. The injury forced him out for almost a year. He made a comeback though, at PSM Makassar, and what a comeback that was. With the South Sulawesi club, he won the 1999-2000 Ligina.
From PSM, Yeyen moved to Persikota Tangerang, Perseden Denpasar, PSMS Medan and Persma Manado. But the best years was behind him and Yeyen never truly delivered for those clubs. He even played futsal for a brief period. In 2007 Yeyen retired.
CB: CHARIS YULIANTO
Charis Yulianto, who was born in Blitar (East Java), was a tough defender you wouldn’t want to play against. He was so reliable that both Peter Withe and Ivan Kolev liked him. Charis was one of the key players in the Indonesia defence at the 2007 Asian Cup. He had 46 caps and scored two goals.
Now that he no longer plays professionally, Charis devotes his time to train young footballers. From 2015 to 2018, he coached the U-13 and U-15 teams of Football Academy. He is part of Borneo FC U-19 coaching staff now, and is ready to step to higher level.
LB: AJI SANTOSO
He is now the Persela Lamongan head coach, but back in the days, he was famous as a left fullback — one of the best in that position. Not only was he quick running up and down the flank, but his crossing was dangerous as well.
“In those years physical strength was very important, though it was not the most important aspect,” he said of the training he had to undergo under Anatoli Polosin, who was Indonesia head coach from 1987 to 1991. “Training was insanely hard, even at dusk we were still up on the mountain!” Aji had 41 caps and six goals to his name.
CM: BIMA SAKTI
The Primavera alumnus was one of the most iconic national team midfielders and the inspirational captain. He made his international debut in 1995 and only in 2012 did he hung up his boots. During that time, he was highly-respected by fellow footballers.
“He’s a real professional,” said Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto while Yeyen Tumena said: “Bima is very disciplined in taking care of his body. He is a respected leader.”
If there was a flaw, it is the the fact that Bima never won anything with the national team. He had his second chance to lift a trophy, once as an assistant and then the head coach in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018. But like Bima the captain, Bima the coach never delivered as well. He was subsequently sacked as Indonesia’s head coach.
CM: PONARYO ASTAMAN
A fighter with the ability to play pinpoint passes. With his ability to control the midfield, Ponaryo was named the best player in the 2004 Liga Indonesia. He captained Indonesia at the 2004 AFF Cup and the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. Together with Firman Utina, Ponaryo made an admirable midfield partnership.
Ponaryo hung up his boots in 2017 and now acts as the president of APPI (Indonesian Professional Footballers’ Association). He started his coaching career in 2018 as a part of Borneo FC U-19 coaching staff.
CM: FIRMAN UTINA
While Ponaryo is the conductor, Firman is the creator. He played 67 international matches, including at the 2007 Asian Cup — he played really well in the competition, particularly in the match against Bahrain. In that match, he created both goals that went past Abdulrahman Abdulkarim.
Budi Sudarsono scored the first easily. Firman’s pass landed behind Bahrain backline and all Budi had to do was poke the ball into the net. For the second goal, Firman’s influence was not a pass but a shot — one that hit the post and ended up in front of Bambang Pamungkas, who took the chance and doubled Indonesia’s tally.
Firman played for Kalteng Putera in the 2018 Liga 2 and got promoted to Liga 1. However it is not yet clear whether, at 37, Firman would continue playing or call it a day.
RF: BAMBANG PAMUNGKAS
Soetjipto “Si Gareng” Soentoro can have the honour as the national team’s highest scorer with 57 goals in 68 international matches, but Bambang Pamungkas stand on the highest ground when it comes to caps. BP20 played 85 times and scored 42 goals for the Garuda.
Bambang was known as a dangerous striker from his early years in professional football. As a result he took part in three Asian Cups — Indonesia had only four participation in the competition. BP was part of the national team for the 2000, 2004 and 2007 edition. His best Asian Cup moment was the goal against Bahrain at the Gelora Bung Karno.
Bambang is a household name and a living legend for the national team and, especially, Persija Jakarta where he won the 2018 Liga 1.
LF: KURNIAWAN DWI YULIANTO
During his 19 years (1995—2014) as a professional footballer, Kurniawan scored 205 goals — 21 for FC Luzern and Sarawak FA, 33 for the national team, and the rest for his local clubs.
It all started with a sincere dream. “I used to dream to become a footballer because one thing only: to be on TV, get on planes and going abroad, all expenses covered,” he said.
He had 59 caps to his name. However, out of his 33 international goals, none was scored in the 2000 Asian Cup. He was more prolific at the AFF Cup (named Tiger Cup at the time) though.
CF: WIDODO CP
“The goal was both instinctive and a result of continuous training. I received the ball with my back to the goal and could only take a speculative shot. Of course I was proud to find out that the goal became a global conversation. That was one of my proudest moment, along with becoming a champion with club and the national team,” said Widodo Cahyono Putro.
The goal in the match against Kuwait made WCP famous overnight, and he received the Goal of the Year award for that beautiful effort. Not only that, the goal is historic because it gave Indonesia their first point in the Asian Cup, ever.
Success seemed to always follow the Cilacap-born man. He collected both the 1991 SEA Games gold medal and the 1999 SEA Games bronze medal. He is one of Indonesia’s brightest young coaches. However, after his Bali United adventure ended, Widodo haven’t made a decision as to where his next adventure will be.