Mon, 04 Sep 2000

Indonesia defeats Iraq in style to lift Independence Cup

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian soccer fans saw their dreams realized when Indonesia lifted the trophy after defeating Iraq 3-0 in the final of the Independence Cup soccer tournament at Senayan main stadium on Sunday.

Senior midfielder Aji Santoso opened the way for victory in the 54th minute. Two minutes later compatriot Bima Sakti kicked the second goal under the desperate look of the Iraqi goalie Saad Nasir.

In the 65th minute, striker Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto stole the ball in the center field and fed junior Gendut Doni Christiawan, who immediately headed the ball to seal his team's victory.

Besides the trophy, Indonesia pocketed US$40,000 while runner- up Iraq bagged $20,000.

Coach Nandar Iskandar said that he changed his strategy in the second half after noticing the void in center field.

"The distance between strikers and defenders was too far and midfielders had to cover quite a spacious area. I ask three defenders to help their teammates at the center," he told reporters after the match.

Nandar said he had picked 20 out of 23 players who attended the training program for the 2000 Asian Cup final in Lebanon from Oct. 12 to Oct. 29.

But he wanted to call one more striker as Rocky Puttiray would return to his Hong Kong-based Instant-Dict club and the team has just missed junior Bambang Pamungkas, who is currently playing with Roda JC Kerkrade in the Dutch main division.

Indonesia has Kurniawan, who is still considered the country's best striker, and Gendut.

Chairman of the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI), Agum Gumelar, expressed hope that Sunday's victory could serve as a starting point for Indonesia to achieve better results in regional events.

"This is the first time we beat a strong team like Iraq. Hopefully it can be a starting point to move ahead," he said.

Nandar's success in coaching the national team was tarnished by rumors that he would be replaced by another coach. PSSI has invited Dutch coach Henk Wullems, who trained the national team ahead of the 1997 Southeast Asian Games, to be a technical advisor.

Agum refused to confirm the rumors saying that Nandar's fate as the national team coach would be decided in a meeting with his officials. He, however, did not mention a date.

"Nandar's performances will be evaluated and his term will be decided in the meeting," he said, adding that it was possible to give Wullems the job as advisor.

Nandar appeared upset with the information.

"I'm waiting for a summons from PSSI. I have no idea about my replacement. I don't know whether the existence of a technical advisor will benefit me or not. If PSSI officials stand firm on this, I will also take the hard line," he said.

Wullems refused to comment on his appointment. "I can't comment on this because it's not settled yet. If somebody asked me for the job, I have to understand first the situation and the conditions surrounding it," he said. (ivy)