Mon, 04 Sep 2000

Kurniawan on his way to professionalism

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia's striker Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto stole the show in the final match of the Independence Cup Sunday when the host team defeated Iraq 3-0.

He might not end up as the top scorer of Sunday's final or of the overall event but he assisted teammates in setting up goals with his feeds. Many missed the chances, however, but others, like junior striker Gendut Doni Christiawan, were more successful.

The former member of the Primavera junior team, which trained in Italy in 1993, only earned one goal when Indonesia routed Myanmar 4-1 last Monday.

It seems that Kurniawan, who will play his first Asian Cup final in Lebanon in October, has left behind his gloomy past and is looking ahead to a brighter future.

He was in the headlines in local media for several months for allegedly taking shabu-shabu (crystal methamphetamine). The illicit activity has torn away his chance to compete in the 1999 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Brunei Darussalam.

In June, he and another two players entered the Wijaya Kusuma Sports Campus to undergo a medical check. Although he admitted to having consumed shabu-shabu when socializing and for occasional recreational pleasure, the campus recommended that Kurniawan be returned to the soccer field.

He joined the Makassar-based PSM club in the Bank Mandiri national league this year and helped the club to lift the President's trophy as league champions.

"I want to close my dark past. I don't want it to return in my memory," he said after Sunday's final.

Kurniawan said he has ended his contract with PSM. Besides looking for another club to play for in the next league, a new and heavier responsibility is awaiting him.

"Insya Allah (God willing), I will be a father on Sept. 12," said Kurniawan, who married TV-star Kartika Dewi last year.

He said that his ambition was to increase his selling points.

"I want to be a professional player and I want to be able to decide on my price. I am thinking far into my future. I want local clubs to set a high value for me," said Kurniawan, who was born in Magelang on July 13, 1976.

He said he had no idea which club to join for the next league. He indicated, however, that a club had offered him the job but refused to mention the club's name.

He started his career in training centers at Salatiga, Central Java, and Ragunan Sports School in South Jakarta. He played for FC Luzern in Switzerland from 1995 to 1996 before joining home favorite Pelita Mastrans (now Pelita Solo). (ivy)