Sat, 04 Aug 2001

Indonesian soccer team to play trial matches

JAKARTA (JP): The national soccer team will put the final touches on its preparations for the Kuala Lumpur 2001 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in a training session in Cilegon, Banten, beginning on Monday.

After the training camp, two more players, likely to be a defender and half-back, will be discarded from the current 22- player squad, coach Benny Dolo said on Friday.

"The final session will focus on developing the players' morale. Our trial matches in Australia identified that their biggest problem was not their skills but their lack of team spirit. Our defensive players committed so many mistakes when placed under pressure," Benny said.

The Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) previously withdrew Aliyudin, Firman Usman, Syamsidar and Andri Budiyanto from the initial 24-strong lineup, before adding defenders Hary Saputra and Sunar Sulaeman to the team.

"We will use the 3-5-2 strategy with one or two half-back players. Most of our defenders are offensive-minded, such as Supriyono and Isnan Ali," Benny said.

During the stint in Cilegon, the national team will play five trials in the evening to adapt to the scheduling of SEA Games competition.

Without having named its sparring partners, the team has set the match dates for Aug. 14, Aug. 16, Aug. 18, Aug. 21 and Aug. 26.

The national soccer team will leave for Malaysia on Aug. 29. The SEA Games soccer competition will start on Sept. 1, with Indonesia opening its campaign against the Philippines on Sept. 2 in their Group B match.

Meanwhile, Indonesian basketball teams bound for the SEA Games achieved mixed fortune in their overseas outings on Friday.

The women's team scored its second straight victory in Hong Kong after defeating the Citizen Athletics Association (TCAA) team 47-37. Their first win came on Thursday when they beat Hong Kong Selection 53-49.

Meanwhile, the national men's team conceded its third defeat at the Philippines National Basketball League (NBL) invitational, losing to Manila-based St. Francis. The 2001 Asian Students champions beat the Indonesian team 81-68.

The national team has had two wins, beating the Philippines Maritime Institute (PMI) and Konica in the tournament.

"We played below our standard. St. Francis was very tough under the leadership of the Ocampo brothers. Although it is a university team, its quality is more superior than a semi-pro team," manager Erick Thohir said.

Erick said his squad considered the defeat a valuable lesson as the student team reflected much the strength of the Philippines national basketball team, the SEA Games defending champions. (nvn)