Indonesia should be disappointed with Asian Cup exit -- and that's a sign of how far they've come

Despite the 4-0 scoreline, Indonesia were excellent in defeat as they went toe to toe with Australia before ultimately losing and suffering elimination from the 2023 AFC Asian Cup in the round of 16. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

Based purely on the scoreline, and the fact that they were coming up against opposition sitting a staggering 121 places above them in the FIFA world rankings, then perhaps Indonesia's loss to Australia on Sunday would seem nothing out of the ordinary.

Based on what actually took place throughout the contest -- that ultimately ended in a 4-0 defeat for the Indonesians -- they will, and should, be disappointed that their 2023 AFC Asian Cup campaign has come to a end in the round of 16.

And that in itself, despite their current lowly ranking, is a sign of how far Indonesia have come in recent times.

They are potentially a force to be reckoned with given the strides they made in recent times since Shin Tae-Yong was appointed at the helm.

The Asian Cup, their first since they were co-hosts in 2007, already promised to be one to remember on given they had sealed a maiden knockout round berth.

It must be said that they did so as the last team to scrape through into the round of 16 by virtue of being the fourth and final best-performing third-placed team to advance along with the group winners and runners-up.

In the previous stage, Indonesia did play with the mentality of the underdogs that they were when coming up against the likes of Japan and Iraq, producing battling displays which ultimately ended in defeat -- with their only points coming in a 1-0 win over regional rivals Vietnam.

If a similar defensive approach had been expected of them ahead of kickoff on Sunday, it would not take long for the Indonesians to prove they had other ideas.

In the opening exchanges, it was them who showed the greater endeavour as Australia appeared to be caught out by their enterprising start.

While in theory still deployed in a defensive 5-4-1 formation, their approach was anything but conservative with wing-backs Asnawi Mangkualam and Shayne Pattynama pushing high to effectively make it a 3-4-3 system.

Luck would just not be on their side.

After making all the early running, Indonesia would fall behind when Elkan Baggott's attempt to intercept a Jackson Irvine cross only succeeded in him diverting the ball past his own goalkeeper.

Just when it looked like it may just be a slender deficit they would be taking into the break, the first real bit of quality produced by the Socceroos produced a second goal in the 45th minute -- with a superb delivery by Gethin Jones converted at the back post with a brave diving header from Martin Boyle.

Remarkably, even around the hour mark, Australia were leading by two goals having only had a solitary shot on target.

Mentally, however, the second goal would be deflating for the Indonesians.

The energy expanded from all the industry they showed also began to take its toll and as the contest wore on, it looked increasingly unlikely that they would be able to muster one final push in mounting a comeback.

Still, the final scoreline was cruel on them.

An excellent save in the 89th minute by Indonesia goalkeeper Ernando Ari only diverted the ball to Craig Goodwin, who lashed home Australia's third on the rebound before turning provider two minutes later when his tantalising delivery into the box was met by Harry Souttar with the deftest of touches into the bottom corner.

In the end, Indonesia would run out of steam but, while the scoreline reflected poorly on them, the manner in which they lost had quite the opposite effect.

For Garuda and their passionate following, being eliminated from the Asian Cup will not be a disappointing outcome -- and the future looks exceedingly bright given they boasted the youngest squad at the tournament with an average age of just 24.

But given how they gave their more-illustrious opponents a real run for their money, not being able to pull off an almighty upset will cause some disappointment -- in a positive way.

They did not turn up on Sunday ready to accept defeat. They gave it a real go and might even have done the unthinkable with just a bit more fortune.

In a tournament that has proven one for the underdogs, it is a sign of how far Indonesia -- the second lowest-ranked team in the entire tournament -- will rue what might have been as they were eliminated by one of the legitimate title contenders.