For many, the New Year is a time for resolutions. Austrian manager Alfred Riedl is no exception, with the new Indonesia coach firmly fixing his sights on his side's rebuilding.
The former Austria and Liechtenstein coach, who turned 64 this November, was recently given back the reigns of Indonesia team having seen his first spell terminated in abrupt fashion two years ago."My first target is to win next year's AFF Suzuki Cup," he told FIFA.com, "secondly I want my team to make sustained progress and break new ground in the FIFA World Ranking."
For Riedl, the return to Indonesia provides him with an opportunity to re-prove himself. "I am very happy to be back to the country," he continued, "in a sense I can pick up my former job and continue my work with the team which I left in 2011. Last time I was shown the door unexpectedly but I am confident to make a good restart this time with the new PSSI (Football Association of Indonesia)."
Passion for Asia
Among the ranks of Europe's global-trotting coaches, Riedl is truly someone special. The Austrian may not be able to match the likes of Guangzhou Evergrande's Marcello Lippi and Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni in fame, but surpasses the Italian duo in terms of Asian experiences.
Indeed, there are few able to match Riedl in passion for the world's largest and most populous continent. The former Austrian international striker has spent nearly the entire last decade and a half managing a host of Asian national teams and clubs. He began with three spells with Vietnam teams, sandwiched between short tenures in charge of Kuwaiti club Al Salmiya and Palestine.
His dedication and commitment saw him among the most sought after coaches by Asia's developing football nations and Laos were the next to come calling. A year later Riedl went on to take up the reigns of Indonesia, with whom he made a perfect start by taking the team to the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup final only to lose to Malaysia over two legs.
I believe this squad are more talented than the previous squad, but we will continue to work in the way we had begun to in 2010.
Although he was ousted months later, Riedl was welcomed back to Laos where he worked as the national team technical director, before returning to lead Indonesia once more.
With the vast experiences gained on the continent down the years, Riedl is the ideal person to offer advice for Asia's growing footballing nations keen on further development. He said: "My opinions for these countries are simple: the federations should keep patience.
“They need to start with a well-designed youth program for long-term development in order to ensure that they won't lag behind Asia's strong teams, like Japan, by too far. And that is why I am so confident with Indonesia, because the country has abundant youth talents to be unearthed."
It is two years that have elapsed since he last left Indonesia and Riedl admitted the team have changed greatly. "There are many new faces in the current team," he said, "I believe this squad are more talented than the previous squad, but we will continue to work in the way we had begun to in 2010."
Skippering the new-look side is Boaz Solossa, a player with whom Riedl is familiar. The dynamic Persipura Jayapura striker has been in eye-catchingly prolific form since inheriting the captain's armband from the legendary Bambang Pamungkas, being on target twice in the ongoing 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers including scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 home draw against China.
"Boaz should be the most talented player in this team," Riedl added, "the rest of the players are also good but I will be watching them to assess them further."
To Riedl's delight, Indonesia's U-23 side won silver in the recent SEA Games with a series of fresh gems shining, including Andik Vermansyah, a talented youngster nicknamed 'Indonesia's Messi'.
"There is no age limit in our team so the best of these young players will be recruited. But they have to also prove themselves in the Indonesian league to earn a call-up to the senior national team. So does Andik."
The first test awaiting Riedl is the final qualifier for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia. Although it is academic, with Indonesia already eliminated, the Austrian sees it a chance to get his tenure off to a good start. "We will prepare well for the game. I have to study the opponents carefully and decide what strategy we should use, and of course we will try to get an ideal result," he concluded.