Bangkok: Indonesia made an AFC Women’s Futsal Championship debut to remember, putting themselves in pole position to reach the quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Second-half goals from Febriana and Fitri made all the difference for the Southeast Asians, who earned all three points with a performance that showed they well and truly belong on the Asian stage.
In a hotly-contested opening match, early goal scoring opportunities proved hard to come by as both teams took their tentative first steps in the year’s biggest tournament.
Hong Kong enjoyed a slight edge in terms of early possession, but Indonesia – marshalled confidently by skipper Novita – defended strongly to produce a first half arm wrestle
The contest burst into life four minutes before half time, when Hong Kong’s dual international Cheung Wai Ki flashed a low right-footed effort inches wide of the left hand upright.
Indonesia’s Fitri fired a powerful strike high and wide at the opposite end seconds later, but neither side found the guile required to unlock their opponent’s defence, and they remained deadlocked at half-time.
Novita continued to play a pivotal role after half-time, setting Rani up for a shot on goal with nine minutes remaining, while Suciana narrowly missed from a tight angle a minute later as Indonesia began to look the team most likely to break the deadlock.
Their pressure finally paid dividends with just over seven minutes remaining when the Indonesians broke the deadlock through Febriana, who prodded the ball home from close range after being expertly set up by Suciana
They doubled their lead, and sealed their win, with just under three minutes remaining, when Rani teed up Fitri, who thumped the ball in with her left foot, and almost added a third in the dying seconds when Anggi hit the woodwork with a header.
Indonesia will look to continue their dream start to the tournament against hosts and group favourites Thailand at Bangkok Arena on Friday, while Hong Kong will look to get their campaign back on track against Macau on the same day.
Kensuke Takahashi: Indonesia Assistant Coach
“I’m very satisfied with the result. We prepared for two weeks for this game, and I’m really happy with the result. This is just half of what I have planned for the team (at this tournament) and I’m pretty sure that we can be even stronger going forward.”
Ho Wing Kam: Hong Kong Head Coach
“Maybe the players were a bit nervous today. We’ll focus on the next match against Macau and hopefully get three points. Our performance was good today and we didn’t lose our confidence in the match. Why couldn’t we create a goal? Some players were a bit worried that if we missed a chance Indonesia would go the other way and score. Also Cheung Wai Ki had a bit of an injury which hurt us today.”