Thailand 3-2 Indonesia (partially found footage of 1998 Tiger Cup Group A football match; 1998)
On 31st August 1998, Thailand and Indonesia played a 1998 Tiger Cup Group A game at the Thống Nhất Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Occurring in front of 5,000, the game became one of the most controversial in Tiger Cup history after both sides deliberately played poorly so they could avoid facing Vietnam in the Semi-Finals. This culminated in Indonesia's Mursyid Effendi infamously scoring an own goal in added time to force a 3-2 Thailand victory.
Thailand had entered the competition as the defending champions after defeating Malaysia 1-0 in the 1996 Tiger Cup Final, while Indonesia were looking to build upon their fourth place at the same tournament. Both were placed in Group A of the 1998 Tiger Cup along with Myanmar and Philippines. Meanwhile, hosts Vietnam entered Group By with Malaysia, Laos, and Singapore. Aside from having the home advantage, Vietnam's team was considered among the strongest within the tournament.
In Group A, Indonesia defeated Philippines 3-0, while Thailand were held to a 1-1 draw by Myanmar. The defending champions then recovered to beat Philippines 3-1, as Indonesia thrashed Myanmar 6-2. After Myanmar overcame Philippines by a 5-2 margin earlier on 31st August, Thailand soon learned that advancing simply meant avoiding losing by at least four goals. Meanwhile, Indonesia was already assured qualification, and only required a draw to top the group.
However, tensions were brewing among both teams after learning about Group B's outcomes. Vietnam and Singapore overcame opening opponents Laos and Malaysia by a 4-1 and 2-0 margin respectively. They then played to a goalless draw, before Vietnam defeated Malaysia 1-0 on 30th August. However, Singapore beat Laos 4-1 that same day, meaning they topped the group over Vietnam by virtue of goal difference. This caused concern among both Indonesia and Thailand, because the sides felt Vietnam was the superior opposition. Additionally, the match with Vietnam would also take place at Hanoi Stadium on National Day, further bolstering the country's home advantage. Thus, finishing second in Group A was seemingly viewed as a blessing-in-disguise, triggering a farcical final match.
The encounter occurred on 31st August with 5,000 in-attendance. Alas, the initially-excited crowd soon became aghast as both Thailand and Indonesia were apathetic during the first-half, with hardly any challenges being made. Further signs neither team took the game seriously involved strange formations of key players. It was also reported that not once was the referee Lu Jun forced to blow his whistle prior to half-time. Upset with the scenes, most fans left the Thống Nhất Stadium after 15 minutes.
Things did pick up in the second-half, following match officials reprimanding the team coaches to increase their sides' efforts. Indonesia's Mirobaldo Bento broke the deadlock 53 minutes in, capitalising on a long shot being deflected into his path by a Thailand defender. Thailand would equalise nine minutes later following a Kritsada Piandit strike. After 83 minutes, Indonesia's Aji Santoso received a pass in the centre of Thailand's box, beating four defenders to put his side 2-1 ahead. Therdsak Chaiman quickly equalised, though reports speculated he was not intending to score.
This culminated in the game's most memorable and controversial moment. After 90 minutes, Indonesia defender Mursyid Effendi received a pass from a fellow player deep into his own side's box. With no Thailand opposition nearby, he then proceeded to fire the ball directly into the net, scoring an own goal. With Thailand now 3-2 in front, the defending champions desperately began attempting to score their own own-goal, but efforts proved futile as they "won" 3-2. Thus, they would play Vietnam in the Semi-Finals on 3rd September 1998, while Indonesia contended the supposedly easier opposition in Singapore. In front of 25,000, Thailand were dominated 3-0 by the hosts. However, Indonesia's campaign ended at the same hurdle, losing 2-1 to Singapore on the same day. A rematch for Third Place saw a 3-3 draw, before Indonesia won a 5-4 shootout. Ultimately, Indonesia and Thailand's concerns over Vietnam proved unfounded, for Singapore defeated the hosts 1-0 in the Final to clinch their first Tiger Cup and international trophy in general.
The Group A result triggered scorn by observers, with outraged Vietnam fans protesting at the Kimbo Hotel where Indonesia was residing at. It prompted an ASEAN Football Federation investigation into unsportsmanlike conduct. Indonesia's Hartono later revealed his team discussed throwing the Thailand game to avoid playing Vietnam, but had assumed his side was joking. He recalled that no plans for scoring an own-goal were discussed. On 4th September, ASEAN announced they would fine both teams $40,000, the maximum possible penalty, for deliberately not attempting to win the encounter and subsequently bringing the game into disrepute. Additionally, Effendi received a lifetime international football and a one year domestic football ban for his role in the scandal. The controversy led to Azwar Anas resigning as General Chairman of PSSI, stating that his team's act of playing "elephant football" or putting in a farcical performance was akin to betraying the country.
Because of the game's immediate notoriety, highlights were shown on television programmes including the BBC's Football Focus, confirming that the match was fully filmed. Aside from the Football Focus report, footage of all five goals is also available to view on YouTube. However, no other footage is publicly available, and it is unclear regarding the uncut tape's survival status.
- RSSSF detailing the 1996 Tiger Cup. Retrieved 25th Apr '23
- RSSSF detailing the results of the 1998 Tiger Cup. Retrieved 25th Apr '23
- VOI detailing the elephant football scandal and how it led to Anas resigning. Retrieved 25th Apr '23
- Soccer, Football or Whatever summarising the match and controversy. Retrieved 25th Apr '23
- The New York Times reporting on both teams being fined $40,000 by the ASEAN Football Federation. Retrieved 25th Apr '23
- Goal summarising Group B, Group A's controversial final match, and the aftermath. Retrieved 25th Apr '23
- Archived Goal summarising the tournament. Retrieved 25th Apr '23