JAKARTA (AFP) - Star striker Bambang Pamungkas's 64th minute winner gave co-hosts Indonesia a dream start to their Asian Cup campaign here on Tuesday as they shocked Bahrain 2-1.
Pamungkas was on hand to slot home the rebound after the excellent Firman Utina's fierce drive had been tipped onto the post by Bahrain goalkeeper Abdulrahman Abdulkarim at full stretch.
That gave the minnows an unlikely victory over Bahrain, who finished fourth in the competition three years ago in China.
"We played like an army," said Indonesia's Bulgarian coach Ivan Kolev.
"They wanted to win and they proved they can win. All of my players performed well. Noone disappointed."
He also paid tribute to the fans, with at least 70,000 cramming the stadium to witness only the second victory by Indonesia ever in three Asian Cup campaigns.
"Thank you to the fans, they made the difference," said Kolev.
Bahrain mentor Milan Macala said the reason his team crashed to defeaat was because they failed to take their chances.
"It's simple. If you don't score goals you don't win matches," said the veteran Czech.
"We had three or four good chances and players with experience like us must score. This is the reason we lost. There are no other reasons."
The skillful Indonesians settled first, making light of their physical inferiority, and gave notice of their counter-attacking threat with a series of lightning forays deep into Bahraini territory that ended only with poor decision-making.
Bahrain didn't heed the warning signs and the hosts deservedly opened the scoring on 14 minutes with a move of exquisite simplicity.
Utina timed his through ball to perfection and lofted it over a static defence for the livewire Budi Sudarsono to run onto, round Abdulkarim and slot into the unguarded net.
The throbbing Gelora Bung Karno stadium, of one the biggest in Asia, erupted with unbridled joy.
Bahrain were looking rattled but Indonesia's suspect defence always seemed likely to offer them a way back into the match - and so it proved on 27 minutes.
Muhammad Ridwan dallied on the left flank instead of clearing the danger and he was robbed by the overlapping Ala'a Hubail who crossed for Abdullah Omar at the near post.
Indonesia goalkeeper Yandri Pitoy blocked his close range effort but the ball rebounded to Sayed Mahmood Jalal to slot home from eight yards.
The second half opened at a frantic pace and it was end to end action aided handsomely by woeful, amateurish defending, particularly by Indonesia.
Following Pamungkas's goal, Indonesia's defending became more and more desperate, offering Bahrain encouragement.
Nigeria-born striker Jaycee John Akwani had the ball in the net 13 minutes from time but it was disallowed after he used his arm to bring the ball under control.
Moments later Rashed Al Dosari almost levelled matters as he was given time and space by a failed offside trap to pick his spot, but his chipped finish cannoned back off the bar.
The hosts remained dangerous and Sudarsono could have settled the tie nine minutes from time but he connected only with air from Pamungkas's teasing cross.
Asian Cup tables (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):
1 0 1 0 1 1 1
1 0 1 0 1 1 1
1 0 1 0 1 1 1
1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Thailand 1 Iraq 1
Oman 1 Australia 1
12/7: Oman v Thailand
13/7: Iraq v Australia
16/7: Thailand v Australia, Oman v Iraq
1 1 0 0 2 0 3
1 0 1 0 1 1 1
1 0 1 0 1 1 1
1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Vietnam 2 UAE 0
Japan 1 Qatar 1
12/7: Qatar v Vietnam
13/7: UAE v Japan
16/7: Vietnam v Japan, Qatar v UAE
1 1 0 0 2 1 3
1 0 0 1 1 2 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Indonesia 2 Bahrain 1
11/7: South Korea v Saudi Arabia
14/7: Saudi Arabia v Indonesia
15/7: Bahrain v South Korea
18/7: Indonesia v South Korea, Saudi Arabia v Bahrain
|Coach: I. Kolev|
for M. Panggabean 31'
for P. Astaman 34'
for E. Aiboy 85'
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