Do Indonesia have anything other than pride to play for in Asian qualifiers?

Indonesia finally claimed their first point of the current 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign after six matches in a 2-2 draw with Thailand. PSSI

With two matches remaining in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, Indonesia are already out of the running -- sitting bottom of Group G in the second round of Asian qualifiers with a solitary point from their previous six outings.

They are next in action tonight when they take on group leaders Vietnam before finishing up their dire campaign in four days against the United Arab Emirates.

Reaching the World Cup was always going to be a step too far. Even if they advanced to the next stage, being one of just four Asian nations guaranteed a spot at Qatar 2022 was never realistic.

Regardless of the fact that they will certainly finish bottom of the group, there's a chance Indonesia could still make the next AFC Asian Cup in 2023 -- even if they will have to do it the hard way via the qualifying playoffs first.

- AFC World Cup qualifying table
- Full fixtures and results

That is a far more achievable goal, although recent performances suggest they have plenty of work to do.

Indonesia coach Shin Tae-yong seems to already have shifted his attention to that target, based on his current squad selection.

One-time wunderkind Evan Dimas -- by no means a veteran yet at the age of 26 -- is the most-experienced campaigner at Shin's disposal with 26 caps to his name. None of the other 27 players called up have more than four international appearances.

It is clear that Shin, who led Korea Republic at the last World Cup and masterminded a famous 2-0 win over then-champions Germany, is already looking to the future -- intent of giving some fresh faces invaluable experience at the international level.

Positive signs emerged in Thursday's 2-2 draw with Thailand, as 22-year-olds I Kadek Agung and Syahrian Abimanyu both excelled in the holding midfield positions, while 19-year-old centre-back Rizky Ridho gave an excellent account of himself coming up against a formidable opponent in Adisak Kraisorn.

The outlook for Garuda is far from one that is completely bleak, especially with several young attackers catching attention abroad.

Attacking midfielders Egy Maulana and Witan Sulaeman are making waves in Europe with Lechia Gdansk (Poland) and Radnik Surdulica (Serbia) respectively, even if they are yet to earn regular first-team action.

Meanwhile, right-back Asnawi Mangkualam has shone when given an opportunity playing for South Korean second-tier outfit Ansan Greeners.

It may well be a case of short-term pain for long-term gain for Indonesia, and Shin's youthful charges could well find themselves learning some tough lessons against Vietnam and UAE.

But it certainly will not just be pride that they are playing for over the next five days.