Thu, 25 Mar 1999

Pelita Bakrie left hanging on possible semifinal spot

JAKARTA (JP): Luck handed Pelita Bakrie a prime opportunity to reach the semifinals after it crushed Pupuk Kaltim 3-0 on Wednesday in the fifth Indonesian Soccer League (Ligina) playoffs at the Senayan main stadium.

Pelita striker Indrianto Nugroho was the star of the match, producing a hat trick in the seventh, 70th and 74th minutes to increase his team's chances in Group II.

Pelita is tied at five points with PSMS Medan, two points behind group leader Persija. If PSMS loses to PSM Ujungpandang in Thursday's match, Pelita will face Persija in an April 1 semifinal.

In Wednesday's Group I match, Persikota Tangerang and Petrokimia Putra of Gresik, East Java, played to a 1-1 draw.

Pelita coach Danurwindo said his team performed excellently free of pressure because "the players only wanted to win for the sake of the supporters".

Speaking of the chance to qualify for the semifinal, the former national team coach said Pelita would have to wait for the result of the PSMS-PSM match.

"With good defenders and strikers, we only have to polish our finishing in the goal area," he said.

Indrianto said he was surprised by his outstanding performance.

"I was more confident during the match and that enabled me to give my best. Hopefully, my effort can bring Pelita to the semifinal," said the 22-year-old former player of Primavera, the teenage soccer team groomed in Italy.

"It's the first hat trick in my whole career, and I thank God and my teammates who made it happen."

Pupuk Kaltim coach Gusnul Yakin complained his players ignored his instructions to play tough from the outset.

"I don't know why the players didn't push Pelita. Instead, they moved very slow and failed to tighten their defense. It enabled Pelita players to move freely," he said.

In the second match, Petrokimia striker Sutamto earned the only goal in the first minute, but Persikota's captain Nova Zainal equalized six minutes later.

Petrokimia coach Sanusi Rachman said his team would not dream of reaching the semifinals after Wednesday's result.

"Our young players came to Senayan to gain experience. They have fine potential, but they still lack self-confidence and are unable to make decisions during play," he said.

Persikota's coach Sutan Harharah blamed the internal discord for his team's poor form during the league playoffs.

He said his players were involved in heated dispute about his coaching because he failed to lead them to a semifinal spot.

"A player told me that I'm incapable and unprofessional. The team's officials also have problems among themselves. It has affected the players' form."

He said he would not apologize for the team's failure although he accepted responsibility for their performance.

Apart from PSMS versus PSM, Thursday's other match will feature Persebaya against PSIS. (ivy)

Results: Pelita Bakrie 3 Pupuk Kaltim 0 Petrokimia Putra 1 Persikota 1

Standing (playing, wins, draws, loses, points, average points):

Group I: Persebaya 3 2 1 0 6-3 7 PSIS 3 2 1 0 6-3 7 Semen Padang 3 0 3 0 4-4 3 Persikota 4 0 2 2 3-4 2 Petrokimia Putra 3 0 1 2 1-4 1

Group II: Persija 3 2 1 0 4-2 7 Pelita Bakrie 4 1 2 1 4-2 5 PSMS 3 1 2 0 3-2 5 Pupuk Kaltim 3 1 0 2 1-4 3 PSM 3 0 1 2 1-3 1