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Indonesia one step from Olympics after beating S. Korea

Indonesians celebrated Friday after their spirited men’s team beat South Korea in the Under-23 Asian Cup quarter-finals in a dramatic penalty shootout, leaving them one step from qualifying for the Olympics for only the second time in history.

They defeated their Asian rivals 11-10 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in Doha on Thursday night.

The top three teams will qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris while the fourth place side will face an Asian-African playoff with Guinea in May, AFP reports.

“Praise God, semifinal! An incredible win against South Korea, the Asian Giant,” wrote Indonesian football association president Erick Thohir on Instagram.

“Playing with bravery, discipline in defence, and effectiveness in the frontline made the Red and White’s hope for the Olympics wide open. Proud!”

Rafael Struick, winger for Dutch club ADO Den Haag, scored twice for Indonesia who were pegged back twice by a Komang Teguh own goal and a Jeong Sang-bin strike.

South Korea, one of the favourites to win the tournament, went down to 10 men in the 70th minute but held on for penalties.

Indonesia’s Pratama Arhan scored the decisive penalty after Lee Kang-hee’s spot-kick was saved.

South Korea’s loss leaves them without an Olympic spot for the first time since the 1980s.

Remarkably a South Korean coach, Shin Tae-yong, led Indonesia to victory to prevent his home country from qualifying. His name was trending on social media site X early Friday.

Now Indonesians can get excited by their overwhelming chances to reach the global showcase of athletics after being knocked out by the Soviet Union at the 1956 Games in Australia.

“(It was) more than my expectation. I lost my words,” Indonesian football commentator Mohamad Kusnaeni told AFP.

“But, as we already know before, anything can happen. Our team had only small experience at this level. But they fought so hard, gave their best.”

Japan beat Qatar in extra-time 4-2 on Thursday night to end the host’s chances, while reigning champions Saudi Arabia play Uzbekistan and Iraq face Vietnam on Friday in the other quarter-finals.