Jakarta (ANTARA) - Youth and Sports Minister Dito Ariotedjo has expressed optimism about the Indonesian national football team, currently managed by coach Shin Tae-yong, qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

In a statement issued by his office here on Thursday, the minister said that Indonesia has managed to emerge as the only Southeast Asian nation to qualify for the third qualifying round of the upcoming World Cup. This marks an unprecedented feat in Indonesian football history.

"This is remarkable progress that we should be proud of, as the Indonesian national football team successfully qualified for the third qualifying round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup," he underlined.

Ariotedjo praised Shin's current squad, saying that the national team has demonstrated significant progress in its performance.

In his view, the team has been presenting more enjoyable gameplay to football fans in the country.

"I think we only need to further strengthen our attacking line and offensive players. However, I believe that the Indonesia Football Association (PSSI) has evaluated this matter and taken it into consideration," he said.

The youngest minister in the Onward Indonesia Cabinet then reminded players in the national team to remain focused on what lies ahead and refrain from plunging into euphoria.

Plenty of games still await Indonesia in its journey to the World Cup that will take place in Canada, the United States, and Mexico, he added.

The minister then highlighted PSSI's naturalization program, saying that it is expected to help Indonesia take notes from the knowledge and experiences of players of Indonesian descent who are playing in more advanced leagues abroad.

He expressed the hope that naturalized players would share the football techniques they have learned in such leagues with their teammates on the national team.

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Translator: Donny A, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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