Despite Indonesia's unexpected success at the ongoing AFF Suzuki Cup at the expense of Singapore, the future of their head coach Alfred Riedl remains unclear. The Austrian boss, who had threatened to quit on the spot if the Garudas flopped, is only contracted until the end of the year.
The Indonesians, playing in their first tournament since the lifting of a 12-month FIFA ban, hold a 2-1 lead over Vietnam going into the second leg of their semifinal in Hanoi on Wednesday. Having lost four finals since 1996, they're chasing a maiden AFF title.
Behind the scenes, Southeast Asia's largest football nation continues to make plans in case Riedl decides to return to Vienna to be with his wife, who's had health problems.
Dutchman Robert Alberts, coach of PSM Makassar, revealed to ESPN FC that the subject of the Indonesia national coaching position came up last week when he was negotiating a new contract until 2018 with the Sulawesi-based club.
"During the contract discussions, it was mentioned by the director of PSM that he had information that I was shortlisted as a possible national coach for Indonesia," Alberts said. "So, my new contract then needed the clause that I would be released if this turned out to be a reality."
Twelve months ago, Alberts was one of three finalists for the Malaysia national job, alongside ex-Kelantan and Johor Darul Ta'zim chief Bojan Hodak, and Datuk Ong Kim Swee, who became the successful applicant.
The 62-year-old former Ajax junior could even become a possible outsider for the Singapore head coach role, having won the 1999 S.League with Home United, in addition to titles in Malaysia and Indonesia. The one-year contract of interim boss V. Sundramoorthy expires in mid-2017.
"I was close, yet so far, from getting the Malaysia job," said Alberts, who was Malaysia U19 head coach in 2007. "I have very strong inside information that the position for Malaysian national coach was already done before the meetings with the three candidates, so I wasted a lot of time believing I could have a chance.
"And, yes, I do know Singapore a little, and believe that I could do a good job there.
"I am truly enjoying coaching at Makassar again, but I do have a clause that if any national team would give me an offer, I am free to go. A national job is always interesting to me."
Alberts has coached in Southeast Asia for almost 25 years, and speaks in a laid-back, and measured Dutch accent that is closer to a Martin Jol whisper than a Louis van Gaal bark. He was a teammate of Van Gaal in the Ajax reserves in the early 1970s before carving out a playing career as a midfielder in Sweden, and in the old North American Soccer League, with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Having left Malaysian club Sarawak in 2015, he signed on for a second spell with PSM Makassar in June, just as Indonesia emerged from their FIFA ban. The Indonesia Super League won't start again until March, but Alberts has guided PSM to fourth in the unofficial Indonesia Soccer Championship (ISC), on the back of a six-match unbeaten streak.
With Indonesia in Hanoi ahead of their clash with Vietnam, he's been in Bali, preparing his team for an away game against Bali United. Some might call it the best road game in Southeast Asian football.
Alberts has been delighted with Indonesia's AFF progress, but concerned about the poor performances of Singapore and Malaysia that saw them win only one game of six between them. The Singaporeans were knocked out after losing 2-1 to Indonesia in their final Group A game on Nov. 25.
"Singapore let themselves down when they were leading 1-0. Their ultra-defensive attitude made the opportunities come for Indonesia, and they capitalised on disorganised defending to win the game," he said.
"Indonesia were a bit lucky in the first leg of their semifinal because Vietnam created more scoring opportunities, but couldn't finish them off. I think with the away goal, Vietnam will win at home to make the final, but it is has still been a good start for Indonesia after the one-year ban. I can see the huge potential for the future."
In May, a then-unemployed Jose Mourinho was touted as the man that the Indonesian FA were chasing before Riedl agreed to come in for a third stint in charge. In reality, Jose was probably as likely to move to Jakarta as Riedl was to take over the reins at Old Trafford.
It remains to be seen if Riedl's arm might be twisted to stay, should Indonesia make their first AFF final since 2010. He has hinted that positive results on the field might change his mind.
If not, the always-pragmatic Alberts, known on the sidelines for his visor cap and fanny pack, faces the prospect of going up against candidates for a Southeast Asian national coaching job for the second time in less than 12 months.