As Malaysia and Indonesia fall short of final, how far are they from winning a Southeast Asian Games gold medal?

Both gave it their all. Both can look back at their campaign with no shortage of pride.

Nonetheless, for Malaysia and Indonesia, their quest to win the gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games men's football competition once again came up short -- this time at the penultimate hurdle with both being eliminated in the semifinals on Thursday.

- Malaysia's gold medal dream ends as Vietnam reach final
- Thailand down Indonesia to stay in the hunt for 17th SEA gold

They were certainly valiant in defeat against Vietnam and Thailand -- the two teams that have taken turns being the dominant force in Southeast Asian football over the past decade -- respectively, with both ties going into extra-time before a winner finally arrived.

There will still be a bronze medal for Malaysia and Indonesia to do battle for on Sunday but, with the next edition of the SEA Games just 12 months away, how far away are either from having a team that can go all the way?

Especially in an age-group competition where success is dependent on boasting enough quality players from the same generation, with history counting for little unless it is a history of producing batch after batch of talented individuals?

The Malaysians have come closer in recent times. They finished runners-up to Thailand in 2017 and did claim back-to-back gold medals from 2009-11.

Still, that double-winning team from a decade ago was a special case, with the likes of Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan, Baddrol Bakhtiar and Ahmad Fakri Saarani all coming through at the same time.

The Thailand team that won gold in 2013 and then retain the crown two years later was similar, with a whole crop of outstanding prospects headlined by Chanathip Songkrasin, Sarach Yooyen and Charyl Chappuis.

Likewise, Vietnam's gold-medal winning team from three years ago has since been hailed as a golden generation, forming the foundation of the side that has since gone out to reach the final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The current Malaysia outfit has standouts in Luqman Hakim Shamsudin, Mukhairi Ajmal, Nik Akif Syahiran and Hadi Fayyadh, but it is perhaps a lack of depth that has cost them this time around.

Credit has to go to coach Brad Maloney who has been involved in the U-23 setup since 2014, initially as assistant to Ong Kim Swee before being promoted to the lead role, for getting the best out of charges who have had exposure to first-team football but are not exactly playing leading roles at club level yet -- and without calling on the three overage players that teams are permitted.

Even if the 32nd edition of the SEA Games is to revert to an U-22 competition, Malaysia will still have Luqman and Mukhairi available but it will be imperative that they have a strong supporting cast.

The positive? 12 players out of 20 from the current side will still be eligible in 2023 and better for this year's experience.

Speaking of golden generations, that is exactly what Indonesia believed they had heading into the ongoing edition, especially after a youthful senior outfit reached the final of the most recent AFF Suzuki Cup.

It is hard to argue against that given the likes of Egy Maulana, Witan Sulaeman, Alfeandra Dewangga and Rachmat Irianto all looking like they will be key members for Garuda over the next decade.

Indonesia will however only have nine players from the current squad available for next year's Games, with Egy the obvious one who will be sorely missed.

Perhaps the bigger concern is that the Indonesians have also been heavily reliant on their three overage additions in this edition, with Marc Klok, Ricky Kambuaya and Fachrudin Aryanto and playing leading roles when perhaps the idea should have been for their younger teammates to step up while they help to nurture and guide.

Also worryingly for Indonesia, they have developed a reputation of just being unable to seal the deal having now reached the SEA Games semifinals in six editions without ever going all the way, as well as being six-time runners-up in the history of the Suzuki Cup.

The talent Shin Tae-yong currently has at his disposal is undeniable, especially with precocious youngsters like Marselino Ferdinan and Ronaldo Kwateh -- both only 17 -- breaking through.

Yet, perhaps the biggest barrier Shin, who led South Korea at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, has to overcome in order for Indonesia to finally win the SEA Games gold is a mental one -- getting them to actually believe they can.