- Rising star Osvaldo Haay was 2019 SEA Games joint top-scorer
- Persija forward is among Indonesia’s hottest prospects
- Headhunted for Persija by legendary Bambang Pamungkas
The world is in lockdown and football events are suspended, but the globe’s footballers are not just sitting idly doing nothing.
Quite the contrary with many players staying busy by doing whatever is possible to help fight COVID-19. In Indonesia, young Osvaldo Haay is drawing the attention of media and fans alike by quickly adapting to the changes with a new mode of working.
The 22-year-old Persija Jakarta forward has trained at home since the suspension of Indonesia Liga 1 two weeks ago. For him, self-discipline is always the key to success.
"It is difficult to keep up the usual training outside considering the current circumstances," Haay told FIFA.com. "So in order to maintain fitness, I have switched to core training at home. In addition to that, I do passing training to maintain the touch of the ball with my brother and nephew."
Haay may not be a familiar name just yet, even in Asia. However, the talented striker is among the hottest prospects in his country following his tournament top-scorer performances in December's 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Haay was on target eight times as Indonesia’s U-23 team won silver.
"Thank God I did what I could to help our team reach the final in this competition," he said, reflecting on the memorable campaign. “It [finishing as the tournament top-scorer] is indeed a huge boost to my confidence. It will encourage me to work harder and become a better player."
By rubbing shoulders with the region's most promising stars, Haay has gained precious playing and life experiences, which he believes has hastened his development.
“I have learnt more about our rivals,” he continued. “Now I know about my weaknesses and I am aware there is plenty room for improvement.”
“I have seen different styles of play by playing against these opponents, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam, to name a few. We battled on the pitch and we became friends off the field. The Vietnamese players are strong and personally I think Ha Duc Chinh [tournament joint top-scorer] is quite good.”
Hailing from a football-mad family in Papua – his middle name is Ardiles, a reference to Argentina’s 1978 FIFA World Cup™ midfielder - Haay has inherited his parents' passion for the game. "My parents and brother are my mentors. They introduced the game to me. In Papua, everyone is born with a football dream and wants to become a professional footballer."
Haay cut his teeth with Persipura Jayapura and in 2018 he moved to Persebaya Surabaya where he made a name for himself. He scored ten times in his first season with Surabaya, performances which saw him elected that year's Best Young Player of Indonesia Liga 1.
That brilliant domestic form, coupled with stand-out displays in the SEA Games campaign, saw Haay emerge as one of the country's most sought-after stars. At the start of 2020, he signed with Persija Jakarta - managed by none other than legendary Bambang Pamungkas.
Standing at 174cm tall, Haay is known for his pace and shrewdness in front of goal. Haay names Eden Hazard, Neymar and Sergio Aguero when asked about his footballing inspirations. "These stars are not big physically but they touch the ball superbly. They are really smart players.”
Already a fan-favourite in Indonesia, Haay is understandably shouldering growing expectations with the national team. The Red and White are all but eliminated from Asia's 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar qualifying campaign, having yet to earn a point from their five outings in Group G.
Haay, though, is keen on proving himself in the remaining fixtures. "Although we are eliminated, we need to stay focused and concentrate on every game. Each time I play with the national team, I want so much to score and help our team win. We need to work harder and be more disciplined. We will be a better team.”