Sat, 19 Jul 2003

Four-goal Zaenal leads Persita to quarterfinals in LG Cup

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A goal extravaganza marked the final group matches in the LG Cup ASEAN Club Championship with Zaenal Arif bagging four in Persita's 5-1 thumping of MCTPC Laos at the Bung Karno stadium here on Friday.

Later in the day, BEC Tero Sasana of Thailand dominated Army FC of the Philippines (PAFC) to win 3-0, with Wuttya Yongat scoring twice and Terdsak Chaiman contributing the other goal.

Both Persita and BEC Tero qualify for the quarterfinals, topping Group C and Group D respectively.

Zaenal, a member of the U-23 and senior national squads, came up only a goal short of tying with the tournament's leading scorer, Baichung Bhutia, who took five goals in East Bengal's 6-0 steamrollering of PAFC.

In front of around 6,000 spectators on Friday, MCTPC, which badly needed a win in order to qualify for the next round after its 1-2 loss in the opening match, tried to take the initiative early on in the game with good attacking play.

However, while they were busy looking for an early goal, they left their defense wide open, something Persita was all too happy to capitalize on.

A corner kick, following a series of counterattacks, found Zaenal in a good position inside the box to begin his goalfest with a header.

The second goal in the 35th minute came with the assistance of his U-23 teammate Firman Utina, who joined a sweeping attack through midfield.

Running almost half the length of the pitch with the ball, Firman sent a pass to Zaenal, with the latter lobbing home the ball past goalkeeper Vongsackda Sianphongsay.

Three minutes later Sianphongsay again had to collect the ball from the back of his net after Zaenal, who had latched on to a rebound following a clearance effort by an MCTPC defender, blasted the ball through the near post to complete his first half hat trick.

Coach Benny Dollo substituted Deddy Umarella in the 75th minute for Ilham Jayakusuma, who had been performing below par.

Deddy duly fulfilled his boss's expectations, sending over a fine cross that allowed Zaenal to score his fourth to make it 4- 0.

Deddy was the scorer himself five minutes from the end. His 30-yard shot at the edge of the MCTPC penalty box found the back of the net with the goalkeeper left standing.

MCTPC finally got a consolation goal during injury time through Souvanhno Louangamath. He broke away from an offside trap, turned a Persita defender around before cunningly lobbing the ball past goalkeeper Ahmad Kurniawan.

Persita will play East Bengal of India and BEC Tero Sasana take on HAGL in the quarterfinal matches on Sunday. The quarterfinals in Gresik, East Java, on Monday will pit host Petrokimia Putra against Singapore's SAFFC, while Malaysia's Perak FC takes on Cambodia's Samart United.