Fri, 02 May 2003

Lebanon seeks another upset in RI tie

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Lebanon U-23 soccer team looks eager to repeat its surprise elimination of Jordan when it takes on Indonesia in the second round of the 2004 Olympics qualifying matches here on Saturday.

"We are very upbeat after the victory over Jordan. We surprised many people in Lebanon and also in Jordan," French coach Richard Tardi said at a media briefing held upon the team's arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Thursday.

Lebanon held Jordan to a 1-1 draw in Amman on April 19, and made it to the second round on the away goal rule, after the first leg match in Beirut ended in a 0-0 draw.

Tardi hinted that the Jordanian upset should provide a boost to his team, of which the majority are young players.

Asked about an optional gamesmanship, in which they would simply look for a draw here and try to capitalize on their host's status in the return match within a month, Tardi said, "We play two games, and we must qualify after two games. We'll try to take the best result."

The Lebanese team arrived with 19 players, including Abbas Atwi, their scorer in the tie with Jordan. Prior to leaving for Indonesia, said Tardi, the team had been in three friendly games, winning twice in Qatar and losing in the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian team members, according assistant coach Bambang Nurdiansyah, were likely to opt for fast moves to challenge the tall Lebanese,

Beirut's second-leg match is to be played on June 6, and the Indonesia-Lebanon tie is one of the 12 fixtures in the Asian qualifiers, with the winners due to advance to the final stage between March and early May in 2004.

While the majority of pairings will play their matches on either May 1 or May 3, three pairings will have to wait for the results from first-round matches that have been rescheduled due to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

The rescheduled matches are: Hong Kong-Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei-Singapore and Iraq-Vietnam. All three will be played on Sept. 10, according to