Singapore AFF slayer Stefano Lilipaly targets more Indonesia success
He scored the goal that knocked Singapore out of last November's AFF Suzuki Cup as Indonesia went all the way to the final. Now Dutch-born Stefano Lilipaly is hoping to bring more success to Southeast Asia's most populous nation.
Lilipaly is coming off a fruitful season in the Netherlands with SC Cambuur. The second-tier side finished second on the table, made the semifinals of the Dutch Cup and beat UEFA Europa League finalists Ajax.
The 27-year-old scored eight goals and provided nine assists to add to his growing reputation in Europe.
Lilipaly and Indonesia aren't involved in the ongoing AFC Asian Cup qualifiers due to their 12-month FIFA ban, which finished in the middle of last year. But they are already planning for August's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and next year's Asian Cup.
There's renewed optimism in Indonesian football after the the runner-up finish of the Merah Putih at the Suzuki Cup where enjoyed victories over Vietnam and Thailand, in addition to Singapore.
"We put Indonesia back on the map. We started all over with a new team and everyone was thinking we were the underdogs and would not even make it past the group stage," Lilipaly told the-afc.com.
"In the end we got to the final. Unfortunately, we did not win it, but I think we surprised everyone."
After defeating Thailand 2-1 in the first leg of the final on home soil, the Indonesians lost 2-0 in Bangkok on Dec. 17 for a 3-2 defeat on aggregate.
Earlier, Lilipaly's goal gave the Indonesians a stunning 2-1 victory over four-time AFF champions Singapore in their final group match on Nov. 25.
"For me that was a very special moment because it was my first goal for the national team, and it was one of the most important goals in the tournament," he said.
"If I didn't score that, we wouldn't have made the semifinals."
August's SEA Games football in Kuala Lumpur is an under-22 tournament, which will preclude Lilipaly's involvement. However, he is likely to be involved in the 2018 Asian Games on home soil in Jakarta and Palembang.
Before that, Indonesia will host Puerto Rico in a friendly in Jogjakarta on June 13.
"For all the senior team games we play with U22 players and only select five senior players," he said. "Now I'm one of the five, and for the Asian Games, which will be in Jakarta, maybe I'll again be one of the five.
"I still haven't played for the national team in Jakarta, and I cannot imagine how crazy it would be."
Lilipaly, who represented Netherlands at youth level, has earned nine Indonesia caps since 2013, with two goals. His father is Indonesian, while his mother is Dutch.
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