SINGAPORE - They have never won Asean football's premier tournament despite reaching the final of the AFF Championship five times but Indonesia sent a warning to the title contenders by swatting aside Cambodia 4-2 in their Suzuki Cup opener on Thursday (Dec 9).
The last team to take the pitch at this edition, the Indonesians displayed their attacking prowess in an entertaining affair before 673 ticketed fans at the Bishan Stadium.
The result was impressive given the restrictions placed on the current team. In a repeat of the 2016 edition, coach Shin Tae-yong was allowed to select only two players from any one club as the Indonesian league, Liga 1, is still ongoing.
That meant a few big names like Ilija Spasojevic, the current top scorer in the league, and Persib Bandung star midfielder Marc Klok were left out, and several unproven youngsters were called up instead. In the 30-man squad, only skipper Evan Dimas and centre-backs Fachrudin Aryanto and Victor Igbonefo have more than 10 official caps to their names.
The Indonesians defied the restrictions to reach the 2016 final and will be hoping for a repeat this year spurred on by their young squad's fearless display at Bishan.
Cambodia coach Hirose Ryu rang the changes in a bid to produce a better performance from his side after Monday's 3-1 loss to Malaysia, with only four players that started that opening game in the starting line-up on Thursday.
But the plan backfired as Indonesia were quick off the blocks , with their quick, penetrative play punishing an apathetic Cambodia.
The Indonesians took only four minutes to open the scoring, with Rachmat Irianto giving his side the lead with a perfect header from Dimas' corner.
The captain turned from provider to scorer in the 18th minute when his shot from an acute angle in the box nestled into the bottom left corner of the net.
Two then became three in the 33rd when Irianto scored his second goal in the same way he did his first - off a header from Dimas' corner.
Cambodia then took a leaf out of Indonesia's playbook when Yue Safy pulled one back in the 37th minute with a header from a corner.
Indonesia added a fourth in the 54th through Ramai Rumakiek, who cut inside from the left flank before unleashing a fierce strike past goalkeeper Hul Kimhuy.
Substitute Prak Mony Udom reduced the deficit for Cambodia in the 60th when his free kick took a deflection off the Indonesian wall before it found its way into the net.
Indonesia coach Shin said that there was still more to come from his young team.
He said: "In terms of our defensive line, we need to make sure we are stronger. The two goals we conceded showed a lack of concentration that we need to work on.
"As for our attack today, although we scored four goals, it was not even close to the 100 per cent we could show. We will go back and have a chat on how to be better for the upcoming matches."
Indonesia will play their second match of the tournament on Sunday against Laos while Cambodia face Laos on Dec 15.