Inexperienced Indonesia hope exuberance shines through in AFF Suzuki Cup quest

Indonesia's quest to end their 25-year wait to win the AFF Suzuki Cup will involve possibly the youngest squad they have ever fielded in Southeast Asia's premier international tournament.

Their precocity is not lost on Indonesia coach Shin Tae-yong, who will lead them out for their first game of the 2020 edition on Wednesday against Cambodia -- after they sat out the opening round of matches in the five-team Group B.

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Rather than worry about their lack of experience, he is optimistic that it will be their exuberance and youthful endeavour that shines through -- starting with Thursday's Group B opener against Cambodia.

"It's true that I have brought in a lot of young players ever since I took over," Shin told ESPN, when asked by ESPN if their inexperience was a concern in such a high-stakes environment.

"But since then, the team has improved and developed. That simply means we have turned into a better team than before.

"Even though this is the Suzuki Cup, I am not nervous as the coach of these players but rather, I am looking forward to the matches. I'm very happy seeing them become better players with each day, and I strongly believe we can get a good result in this tournament."

With the exception of captain Evan Dimas and centre-backs Fachrudin Aryanto and Victor Igbonefo, the rest of Shin's 30-man squad all have less than ten official caps to their names.

Yet, where they are lacking in terms of seasoned campaigners who would be better equipped to handle the pressure, they are brimming in youthful talent who have already proven to have an appetite for the big occasion.

In Witan Sulaeman and Egy Maulana, Indonesia have two young guns who have spent the last couple of years plying their trade in Europe, with the two among six players that Shin has called up that were part of the team that reached the quarterfinals of the AFC U-19 Championship in 2018.

One of those talents, Asnawi Mangkualam, is also currently playing abroad in South Korea with second-tier outfit Ansan Greeners, and - having displayed composure beyond his years -- has been named Indonesia's vice captain despite being only 22.

Indeed, while the Indonesia squad is indeed inexperienced on paper, youth should not be a barrier if they truly are talented enough to lead Indonesia's charge for a maiden AFF crown.

After all, it is not as if older, wiser heads have not tried and failed before.