The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has backed a FIFA investigation into Bahrain’s 10-0 World Cup qualifying win over Indonesia in midweek.
The mauling in Manama raised suspicion because Bahrain needed a huge turnaround to have any chance of reaching the fourth round of the regional qualifiers. Bahrain needed to beat Indonesia, Qatar to lose to Iran and also make up a nine-goal goal-difference on the 2022 World Cup hosts.
FIFA’s security department launched a routine probe, supported by the AFC in a statement yesterday.
“[The] AFC supports the routine investigation launched by FIFA,” it read, promising to “assist FIFA and cooperate closely with the world football governing body.”
Bahrain’s incredible 10-goal rout almost sent them through, but Qatar advanced after an 86th-minute goal gave them a 2-2 draw and the point they needed in Tehran to clinch second place in Group E.
Indonesia, already eliminated, fielded a vastly inexperienced side of mostly uncapped under-23 players after they were blocked from selecting their regular squad by the country’s federation because they mostly play in the breakaway Indonesian Super League.
The size of the defeat marked a new low point for Indonesian soccer, already torn apart by internal troubles and political wrangling.
It also brought howls of derision from furious Indonesia fans and local media, the Jakarta Globe accusing the team of becoming a “laughing stock.”
Indonesia finished bottom of Group E with no points, conceding 26 goals and scoring just three, the worst record of the 20 teams in the third round of Asian qualifying.
“We apologize to the people of Indonesia,” Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) secretary-general Tri Goestoro said in a statement. “The PSSI tried to pick the best players and aimed for the best results for the last match, but Bahrain were clearly playing better and defeated us.”
PSSI national team coordinator Bob Hippy criticized Lebanese referee Andre El Haddad for awarding Bahrain four penalties and sending off goalkeeper Samsidar in the second minute.
“Before the game, I heard rumors saying Bahrain would win big and it happened,” Hippy said. “How could the referee gave so many penalties for Bahrain? He killed us.”
However, that view was not the general consensus as most of the anger turned on the PSSI.
Indonesian Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng demanded the PSSI end the infighting, which has left the country with rebel leagues and almost resulted in a FIFA ban last year.
“That [result] is what we get if the [PSSI] officials keep fighting with each other,” he said. “They should put national football’s interests first. They need to end the bickering right away. We’ve become the victims of the league’s dualism.”