Sun, 08 Apr 2001

Host Indonesia banks on senior players in W. Cup qualifier

JAKARTA (JP): With limited preparation time, host Indonesia is relying on its senior players to earn a full three points over the Maldives in the 2002 World Cup soccer prequalifying match at Bung Karno stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Sunday.

National team coach Benny Dolo told reporters in a media briefing on Saturday that the decision to field seniors was reached because he did not want to underestimate the visitor, the Maldives.

"Soccer fans will see familiar faces dominating the team but it's still facing problems with teamworking. Our preparation time is very short, so I've had to take a shortcut. I will optimize the seniors."

Benny said he was satisfied with the youngsters' performance during training. The under 23-year-old players in the team are also being groomed for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur in September.

"I am considering putting more young players in the midfield. Up front, I will likely field duo Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto and Bambang Pamungkas.

"In the defense zone, I might put trio Aples Gideon Tecuari, Warsidi and either Eko Purdjianto or Sugiantoro."

RCTI will broadcast the match live on Sunday at 4 p.m. Jakarta time.

Top player Bima Sakti is appointed as team captain.

Bima said that the team would attack in the early minutes and would try to score goals from counter attacks.

"Oom Benny instructed us to put the Maldivians under pressure in the first few minutes. Hopefully they won't play defensively at that time."

Bima praised his juniors in the team, saying that they were full of enthusiasm to learn.

"They are full of high spirits. They believe that performing in the pre-qualifying round will enrich their experience," he said.

Bima said that he did not know about Maldives' playing skills. His counterpart, Mohamed Ibrahim also said the same thing.

"I don't know anything about the Indonesian team. I can't say anything about the match. We want to win this match and we will fight hard for it," Bima said.

The Indonesian squad started practising only on March 11 and some key players from PSM Makassar joined the team earlier this month after competing in the East Asian zone quarterfinals of the Asian Champions Cup.

Maldives has competed in six friendlies against Oman, Thailand and Singapore as a warm-up to the prequalifying round and it was not another April fool's joke when it managed to defeat Cambodia 6-0 in its first match in Male.

On the other hand, the Indonesian team has only played local clubs, including a university soccer club, to test its skills. (ivy)