The Dutch East Indies, as Indonesia was known until 1949, qualified for the FIFA World Cup™ at the first attempt in 1938, albeit through the back door as play-off opponents Japan and USA both withdrew. They returned to the Asian Zone preliminaries ahead of the 1974 event, and although they have not come close to reaching the world finals for a second time, they did impress in attempting to make it to the 1986 and '90 editions. In the former, they topped their first-phase group before losing 6-1 on aggregate to Korea Republic at the next hurdle, while in the following campaign they held Korea DPR and Japan to goalless draws at home and would have seized Group 6's solitary ticket to the final round had they won big away to the North Koreans in their final outing. As it transpired, though, a valiant effort was insufficient to prevent a 2-1 defeat. In South Africa 2010 qualifying, Indonesia received a bye into the second round after their first-stage opponents Guam pulled out, but there they were overwhelmed 11-1 on aggregate by Syria.
In qualifying for Brazil 2014, the south-east Asians prevailed 5-4 on aggregate over Turkmenistan under the guidance of Wim Rijsbergen. However, two opening defeats by the Iran and Bahrain respectively were followed by a pair of successive losses to Qatar, knocking the Indonesian's out of contention for Brazil with two games remaining in their qualifying campaign. As a result, Rijsbergen was dismissed from his post as head coach and replaced by caretaker coach Aji Santoso.
FIFA World Cup finals history
France 1938 was a straight knockout tournament. The Dutch East Indies met Hungary in what was, on paper, a colossal mis-match. The Asian minnows handed debuts to nine players. Their opponents fielded two of the finest goal-getters in world football in Gyorgy Sarosi and Gyula Zsengeller. The pair scored twice apiece. Hungary won 6-0. The Dutch East Indies remain the only team to have played just one game at a FIFA World Cup.
The current crop
Austrian coach Alfred Riedl transformed Indonesia into a very well organised outfit who possess the individual quality to break opponents down. They cruised into the final of the ASEAN Football Championship 2010, only to lose 4-2 on aggregate to a Malaysia side they beat 5-1 in the group stage. Under Wim Rijsbergen, who took over in July, the south-east Asians prevailed 5-4 on aggregate over Turkmenistan to progress into Asia’s third qualifying round for Brazil 2014. However, the squad fell short of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in 2014 after losses to Iran, Bahrain and two consecutive defeats by Qatar.
The key players
Bambang Pamungkas is an excellent predator and his country's all-time top scorer, having made his international debut in 1999. As of 2010, he has found a superb sidekick in Cristian Gonzales, who played alongside Alvaro Recoba for the Uruguay U-20s and possesses fine ball control and a powerful shot. Captain Firman Utina, the most valuable player at the ASEAN Football Championship 2010, pulls the strings in midfield.
Best performance in a FIFA competition:
FIFA World Cup France 1938 (First round)
Max Timisela, Daman Suryatman