Indonesia came to play at the AFC U-23 Asian Cup -- and that is why they can still believe in Olympic quest

Why Indonesia should still believe in their quest to reach the Olympics (1:30)

Indonesia failed to qualify automatically for the men's football tournament at the Olympic Games, but they still stand a chance to get there via an intercontinental qualifier. (1:30)

A battling display. Backs against the wall. Valiant defeats. Held out for a gritty upset.

These terms do not always have a negative connotation necessarily but they do often paint a particular picture: one of rank outsiders -- even minnows, perhaps -- doggedly playing defensive football in the desperate hope of getting a result against superior opposition.

When it comes to tournament football, this is a fairly frequent sight.

In their debut at the AFC U-23 Asian Cup, that was not what Indonesia opted for.

Instead, they came to play.

Throughout the competition, they were a breath of fresh air, producing some free-flowing -- at times, electrifying -- football that had many an opposition bamboozled.

Expansive yet intricate one-touch football would produce some superb goals that will be looked back on fondly in years to come.

In the end, it just was not enough to secure automatic qualification for what would have been a first appearance in the men's football tournament of the Olympic Games since 1956.

Despite taking the lead through a fine long-range attempt by Ivar Jenner, Indonesia would ultimately succumb to lose 2-1 to Iraq after extra-time in Thursday's third place playoff.

It is the Iraqis who will join Japan and Uzbekistan -- who face off in Friday's final -- as Asia's three guaranteed representatives in Paris later this year.

As chins lowered and bodies slumped to the ground in despair at the final whistle, Indonesia had just run out of steam at the end of a monumental effort over the past fortnight or so.

Yet, all is not lost. Far from it.

There is now the matter of an intercontinental qualifier against Guinea next Thursday.

Win, and Indonesia could still achieve their Olympic dream. Based on what they served up at the U-23 Asian Cup, there is no reason why they cannot do so.

As long as they go to play.

Like they did when they sealed their progress from the group stage with a stunning 4-1 win over Jordan.

Like they did when they also had some good fortune on their side -- as usually is required when taking the game to more-formidable opposition -- in a campaign-turning 1-0 victory over Australia.

Like they did when they pulled off an almight upset over South Korea in the quarterfinals, emerging triumphant in a marathon penalty shootout that beggared belief -- which ended 11-10 in their favour.

Nonetheless, legs and -- perhaps more crucially -- minds will be weary, especially after the joy and despair from the past couple of weeks.

The onus will now be on Indonesia coach Shin Tae-Yong to lift the spirits of his charges in time for their date with Guinea at Clairefontaine.

Given the time that will be spent travelling and settling in France, the Indonesians will not have long to prepare for the do-or-die clash.

Still, if there is anything they showed at the U-23 Asian Cup, this young and talented Indonesia outfit have no fear for adversity.

They should welcome back captain Rizky Ridho, who was suspended for the third place playoff, and he will immediately add stability and an air of assurance in a defence that look disorganised at times against Iraq.

This should also release Nathan Tjoe-A-On back into the midfield to renew his impressive partnership with Ivar Jenner, with the duo crucial in their team's changes of winning the engine room battle against Guinea.

And in Marselino Ferdinan and Witan Sulaeman, Indonesia have two genuine game changers who could potentially win the tie through sheer individual brilliance.

For that, Indonesia can still believe -- even if they did come up short on Thursday.

They may not have been one of the three teams to seal an automatic Olympic spot at the U-23 Asian Cup.

But they could yet make it four teams from Asia at the Paris Games in a week's time.