Manila: Indonesia make the long trip to the Philippines looking for a winning start to the new year, knowing that victory in Manila will secure a second straight semi-final appearance.

The Garuda currently occupy second spot in Group A, trailing Thailand on goal difference, and whilst a win will definitely be enough they’ll also book their ticket to the knockout stage with a draw or even a loss if Thailand defeat Cambodia in the other fixture kicking off simultaneously.

Playing the hypothetical game can be a risky affair though and coach Shin Tae-yong will surely be targeting maximum points at the Rizal Memorial Stadium to ensure his side complete the group stage on a high.

Indonesia have been impressive through their first three matches and their ten goals make them the joint-top scorers at the tournament with only Vietnam and Thailand having conceded fewer than their two.

History too favours the visitors as Indonesia have won 19 and drawn four of the previous 24 encounters between the pair although two of those draws have come in the sides’ last two meetings at the AFF Championship, a 2-2 result back in 2016 and a scoreless draw in 2018.

For the Philippines it’s been a disappointing campaign with defeats against Cambodia and Thailand being sandwiched between a win over minnows Brunei Darussalam and with just three points from as many matches the Azkals hopes of progression are already extinguished.

Coach Josep Ferre, appointed on the eve of the tournament, could well opt to look to the future here and give some younger and lesser used squad members the chance to feature in front of the home supporters as he aims to build a team for the coming years.

With the Philippines having had a full week to prepare after their previous match in Thailand, compared to the four day turnaround for the visitors, the physical edge definitely lies with the hosts but there’s clearly more at stake here for Indonesia in what could be a thrilling conclusion to the group stage.